Reggie Jackson

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Ish Smith says Pistons point guard Reggie Jackson is looking like old self

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There were a number of reasons the Detroit Pistons took a step backwards last season, but at the top of the list was Reggie Jackson. He was battling knee tendonitis, only played in 52 games after missing the first couple months of the season, and when he returned he was a step slower and his chemistry with Andre Drummond was gone. Stan Van Gundy started to lean on journeyman Ish Smith because the team was better with Smith out there.

Detroit has plans to return to the playoffs this coming season, but they will need more out of the point guard spot to do it. Smith told Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press that Jackson is looking good — like his old self.

“He’s out there in California enjoying himself, but he’s getting better,” Smith, the Pistons’ backup point guard, said at the news conference to unveil the team’s new uniforms. “He’s getting back to the Reggie Jackson everybody knows and loves.”

Stan Van Gundy hopes so and is going to spend some time with Jackson soon.

“He’s doing well and feeling good, and I think feeling confident too,” Van Gundy said. “Things are going in the right way so I’m going to go out there some time in the next couple weeks and spend some time with him.”

Van Gundy said they have changed Jackson’s off-season protocol, slowly ramping him up for the season to make it easier on his knees and get them the rest they need. Smith seems to think it is working.

Van Gundy has also shopped Jackson around and searched for another point guard, don’t expect that process to stop either. If Jackson is healthy, he’s easier to trade.

Report: Pistons interested in Kyrie Irving, but is there a deal to be had?

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Most of the teams in the NBA are going to call up the Cleveland Cavaliers and at least inquire about the availability of Kyrie Irving. Call it due diligence. Not all will be serious suitors, but they will at least call.

Detroit might be more serious than most. They have a strong inside game with Andre Drummond (who they have listened to trade offers for), but Reggie Jackson has not worked out at the point so far as Stan Van Gundy envisioned, and Irving would vault them up into the ranks of more interesting teams in the East. There is interest, reports Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.

A person with knowledge of the Pistons’ front office told the Free Press recently that the organization is interested in the four-time NBA All-Star, who nailed the winning shot to clinch the 2016 NBA title for the Cavs…

And team president and coach Stan Van Gundy isn’t even trying to hide Pistons interest, telling the team website earlier this week “the Pistons have had some level of conversation with the Cavs.”

Van Gundy may be serious about trying, but either way, this leak looks good to the fan base, “see, we’re trying.”

The problem for Detroit — like with every team trying to get involved with Cleveland on an Irving deal — is finding a way to make it work.

Cleveland’s top priority in a deal is getting back a young, elite, blue-chip player on a rookie contract. Stanley Johnson is nice, but he does not qualify. The Cavaliers also want veterans who can help them win now, and maybe the only Piston who qualifies there is Andre Drummond (who makes more than Irving right now). There is no deal between the two teams directly that makes sense.

Which means bringing in a third team, and that tends to be where things fall apart. Ellis in the Free Press talks about a three-way deal with the Clippers that came up on ESPN where:

The Pistons received: Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson.
The Clippers received: Andre Drummond, Stanley Johnson and a future Pistons first-round pick.
The Cavaliers received: DeAndre Jordan and Reggie Jackson.

The Cavaliers do not get the young player they want — call it LeBron James leaves insurance — in this trade. I’m not sure they do it. The Clippers might be willing to swap out centers who can’t hit free throws because they could lose DeAndre Jordan next summer where Drummond is locked up. But the Pistons would surrender Drummond, Johnson, Jackson and a future first-round pick to get Irving and Thompson, is that a good deal for them? I’m not sold.

Bottom line, the Pistons may be interested, but it’s hard to see how they pull off a deal. Something to watch, but don’t expect anything coming soon.

Report: Anthony Tolliver headed back to Detroit on one-year, $3.3 million deal

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The Detroit Pistons need outside shooting to go around Andre Drummond in the paint and the slashing game of Reggie Jackson and Tobias Harris.

Which means they are bringing back Anthony Tolliver, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Tolliver shot 39.1 percent on his 3.5 threes per game in Sacramento last season, and he fills a role as a stretch big off the bench. The Kings waived him on his 32nd birthday, so he was a free agent this summer. He’s a solid NBA rotation player who fits a need in Detroit, and they got him at a good price.

Paul George: Kevin Durant, Reggie Jackson endorsed Thunder

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Paul George is openly discussing what could lead him to re-sign with the Thunder or leave for the Lakers in free agency next summer.

It seems the former Pacer is just getting his head around joining Oklahoma City, which surprisingly traded for him amidst much more heavily reported interest from the Celtics, Cavaliers, Rockets and Lakers. But George isn’t joining the Thunder blind.

Kevin Durant and Reggie Jackson, who both left Oklahoma City on poor terms, provided George with perspective.

George, via Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated:

“KD was like, ‘That place will blow you away,’” George says. “He told me, ‘They can offer what other teams can’t in terms of the people and the preparation and the facility, down to the chefs and the meals.’ He was pretty high on them. He thought it was a first-class organization in every way.”

Jackson, despite his own turbulent exit from the Thunder, told his buddy that he would love it.

The Thunder have built a reputation as a franchise that allows its players focus on basketball and development. The team provides excellent support staff. Media is kept at arm’s length. Oklahoma City, a small market, provides few distractions.

It’s not for everyone, but the environment appeals to many players.

Durant left for a great situation with the Warriors. Jackson became a starter for the Pistons, which never would have happened with Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City.

Durant’s and Jackson’s desire to leave the Thunder doesn’t mean they loathed Oklahoma City, and kudos to them for recognizing the bigger picture. Playing for the Thunder helped both before they were ready to move on.

Will Oklahoma City be the right team for George in coming years? Nobody can know yet, but it sounds as if he’s going in with a favorable mindset.

Report: Pistons plan to match any Kentavious Caldwell-Pope offer sheet, even a max

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Bad news for the Nets or any team planning to pursue Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in restricted free agency this summer.

Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

The Pistons are prepared to match any offer sheet he receives, even if it produced a maximum contract, according to multiple persons with firsthand knowledge of the franchise’s thinking.

One person told the Free Press: “We can’t lose him.”

This is the right course for Detroit.

If the Pistons let Caldwell-Pope walk, they’d have just the $8,406,000 mid-level exception or so to replace him. That’d yield a far lesser player, which is untenable for Detroit with too many players – Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson, Tobias Harris, Marcus Morris and Jon Leuer – under contract and at least theoretically ready to win now.

The 24-year-old Caldwell-Pope should remain productive through his next contract, which makes paying him major money less risky. He’s a strong defender, solid 3-point shooter and fantastic transition threat. Teams can’t get enough two-way wings as small ball gains popularity. His recent DUI arrest is unlikely significantly affect his stock, because his blood-alcohol content registered barely above the legal limit and he has an otherwise solid reputation as a diligent worker.

Caldwell-Pope would likely  get max offers if he were an unrestricted free agent. By putting word out now, the Pistons might dissuade other teams from wasting their time pursuing him. More likely, Detroit opens the door to negotiating a five-year deal with Caldwell-Pope rather than matching a shorter offer sheet from another team, which can be for a max of four years.

Interestingly, the next Collective Bargaining Agreement bans teams from declaring an intent to match all offers for a restricted free agent. It’s unclear how the league will enforce anonymously sourced reports like this, because the Pistons have plausible deniability they didn’t provide Ellis the information. More importantly in this case, the next CBA has not yet taken effect. The Pistons have wide latitude for another couple months to publicly negotiate Caldwell-Pope’s next contract – a deal that increasingly appears will return him to Detroit.