Report: OKC’s Reggie Jackson to pursue starting job with another team as restricted free agent next summer

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The Thunder have plenty of problems to deal with this season, as injuries to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have threatened to derail the team from its stated goal of contending for a title.

They may also be facing a major issue next summer, in terms of their future ability to continue to do so.

Oklahoma City’s stellar sixth man Reggie Jackson was eligible for a contract extension, but the Oct. 31 deadline passed with the two sides being unable to come to terms. While money is always an issue, Jackson believes he can do far more than he’s able to on this stacked Thunder roster, and may be seeking a bigger role somewhere else as soon as he gets the chance.

From Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

 After discussions on a contract extension perished on Friday, Oklahoma City Thunder guard Reggie Jackson is determined to pursue restricted free agency as a means to hunt a starting job in the NBA, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Jackson has been described as eager to get on the market next summer, out of All-Star Russell Westbrook’s shadow and prove his value as a frontline NBA point guard. …

“Bottom line,” one NBA general manager told Yahoo Sports, “how much are they willing to pay for Westbrook’s backup?”

If this all sounds to familiar to Thunder fans, that’s because it should. The team was in a similar situation with James Harden and Jeff Green, and ended up trading each of them once the decision was made not to pay what it would cost to keep them around to fortify the roster.

At some point, the Thunder are going to need to step up, but it may not be now with Jackson. He should command an offer sheet that’s too steep for the team to even consider matching, especially with Durant having the ability to pursue free agency in 2016, and Westbrook and Serge Ibaka becoming eligible the year after that. And, OKC’s three core players are already on the books for more than $50 million next season, which limits their ability to go too far in trying to retain Jackson’s services.

Jackson started 36 games for the Thunder last year, but only did so when Westbrook was sidelined due to injury. He averaged 13.1 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4.1 assists in 28.5 minutes per contest last season.