Trade for Jackson fits Van Gundy’s long-term plan for Pistons

Reggie Jackson, a restricted free agent at the end of the season, will be the full-time starter with John Lucas III remaining as the backup.

Kim Klement

Stan Van Gundy has spent all season telling anyone who would listen that he’s building the Pistons’ franchise around Andre Drummond.

Thursday, he added another important piece to the foundation.

Moments before Thursday afternoon’s trading deadline, Van Gundy pulled off a three-team trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder and Utah Jazz that brought highly regarded point guard Reggie Jackson to Detroit. The Pistons sent Kyle Singler, D.J. Augustin and a 2019 second-round pick to the Thunder, as well as a 2017 second-round pick to Utah.

"Reggie is a young player with good size and length at the guard position," Van Gundy said in a statement. "He’s been successful as a starter playing extended minutes and we feel he’s a good addition to our roster."

In a separate move at the deadline, the Pistons acquired a familiar face — Tayshaun Prince — in a last-second deal with Boston.

While there was no question Van Gundy was looking for a point guard to fill the hole left by Brandon Jennings’ Achilles injury, most observers expected Detroit to add someone that could split time with Augustin. Instead, Jackson, a restricted free agent at the end of the season, will be the full-time starter with John Lucas III remaining as the backup.

At first glance, the move doesn’t fit Van Gundy’s offense, which is built around 3-point shooting and scoring inside. To obtain Jackson, a career 28.8% shooter from behind the arc, the Pistons gave up their best 3-point shooter in Singler, as well as Augustin, who has averaged 20.3 points and 8.2 assists since Jennings’ injury.

Jackson, though, is considered a rising star at the point guard position, and became extremely valuable to the Thunder while Russell Westbrook has battled injuries. After starting 36 games last year, he was back in the lineup again in November, averaging 20.2 points and 7.8 assists while Westbrook recovered from a broken hand.

"I think this is a great move, because Reggie Jackson is certainly good enough to be a starter in this league," said FOX Sports Detroit’s Grant Long. "He’s going to improve the quality of the Pistons right away." 

Jackson’s experience with Oklahoma City will help the Pistons immediately, as he replaces Augustin for Detroit’s playoff run. It also means they have a talented point guard in place for the 2015-16 season without having to count on Jennings being able to immediately regain his top form.

That will come at a price, though. With his talents and youth, Jackson will be in high demand this summer when he hits the market. Detroit, though, will have the ability to match any offer he receives, so he is definitely lined up to be their point guard of the future.

"Stan wouldn’t have given up that much talent if he didn’t think he could sign Reggie," Long said. "D.J. has been playing great and Kyle Singler is a young guy with a lot of potential, so Stan obviously plans on Reggie for being here for a number of years."

Locking up that position for multiple years will give Van Gundy the flexibility to make another major move, such as re-signing Greg Monroe or making a big offer to a player like Draymond Green.

Detroit’s second move at the deadline brings home a familiar face to fill some of Singler’s minutes. The Pistons sent Jonas Jerebko and Gigi Datome to Boston for Prince, who played 11 seasons with Detroit before being traded to Memphis two years ago for Jose Calderon.

Prince is the last active member of the 2004 Pistons championship team, and has bounced back this year after struggling badly last season for the Grizzlies. He’s not the star defender that he was in his prime, but he could still provide leadership on that end of the floor — something the team needs badly.

In another move designed to bolster the defense, the Pistons are reportedly close to an agreement with D-League star Quincy Miller on a 10-day contract. The 22-year-old hasn’t been able to score with enough consistency to stick in three NBA seasons, but he would provide solid defense off the bench at both forward positions.