OKC Thunder: Matt’s Monday Musings, Edition One
For the first of my Monday Musings I am revisiting the OKC Thunder Reggie Jackson trade to the Pistons.
The fast-approaching trade deadline marks two years from the trade that sent OKC Thunder guard Reggie Jackson to the Detroit Pistons. I wanted to revisit this trade, it’s background and what future effects it has had on the OKC Thunder franchise.
For those who have forgotten the particulars of the trade, it was a three team trade involving the Thunder, Pistons and the Utah Jazz.
To simplify the trade, this is the net result;
Detroit received Reggie Jackson, only giving up Kyle Singler and D.J. Augustin.
Utah received Kendrick Perkins, Grant Jerrett, Tibor Pleiss and Oklahoma City’s protected first round pick in 2017. They had to give up Enes Kanter and Steve Novak.
Oklahoma City received Enes Kanter, Steve Novak, Singler and D.J Augustin. They had to give up Perkins, Jackson, Pleiss, Jarrett and the protected pick.
On the surface, Utah appeared to lose this trade in a major way. However, history tells us they started winning after this trade so they might not think so.
Why The Trade Had To Happen.
This bit actually hurts to write. It hurts because I have to remember the 2014-15 season. I think that someone in the Thunder organization broke six mirrors or something else unlucky.
Russell Westbrook was injured at the start of the year. The basketball player who used to play for the Thunder and is now forever going to known as a cupcake had a Jones fracture causing him to miss all but 27 games. Serge Ibaka missed part of the season with injury. The list goes on.
As a result, Jackson started when Westbrook was out. This gave him a taste of what it was like to start in the NBA and he thought that he was ready to run a team. So Jackson started to push for a trade. Honestly, it was good management by Sam Presti that the Thunder got anything for Jackson at all.
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In Detroit, Brandon Jennings had gone down with an injury that was going to keep him out for a long time and Detroit needed someone to run the point. They were not going to give up anyone of value so a third team had to be found to facilitate the trade.
Enter the Utah Jazz, who had too many big men. Enes Kanter did not fit Utah’s defensive mantra so Utah went all in on Rudy Gobert. They took advantage of the win now mentality of the Thunder and basically got a protected pick and a couple of role players back.
The Trade – Two Years On – Minor Players
The trade has played out for a number of players as expected. Kendrick Perkins was never going to succeed in Utah and was waived two days after the trade.
Grant Jerrett would only play three games for Utah for the rest of the season before being waived prior to the 2015-16 season.
Tibor Pleiss played 12 games in the 2015-16 season for Utah before being traded to the Philadelphia 76ers and then waived.
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Both Steve Novak and D.J. Augustin would play almost exactly a year for the Thunder. Novak would only play 20 games and Augustin would play 62 before they became the meat of trade that would bring Randy Foye to Oklahoma City from the Denver Nuggets.
How did that trade play out? Foye is now playing for the Brooklyn Nets and in my opinion battling to save his playing career.
The final minor piece is Kyle Singler who has been nothing short of a disappointment for the Thunder. He was meant to be a floor spacing three-point shooter who could defend. His defense is ok.
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Since joining the Thunder, Singler has shot the ball at 31 percent from deep. This is not good enough, particularly since the Thunder signed him to a five year deal in 2015.
It is safe to say that the minor parts of the trade have not worked out. The Thunder have lost out on Singler in a big way and Foye was not good for the development of Cameron Payne who basically stopped playing last year once Foye came to the team.
The Trade – Two Years On – The Major Players
Two years on, the major players in this trade are still major players on their team, despite being in different roles.
Reggie Jackson has led his team to the playoffs, except that Ish Smith is doing a better job this year. Jackson helped get Detroit into eighth in the Eastern Conference last year, but with a center like Andre Drummond and the rest of the Pistons squad, Detroit should be in a position to make a deep run this season.
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Unfortunately, Jackson is not living up to his self-believed talent. When Jackson was out the Pistons went 11-10 under the guidance of Smith. In the 33 games since his return, the Pistons are 14-19.
His first 16 games back, the Pistons went 5-11. Not good enough. That combined with the fact that he is 26 with major knee issues, Detroit may have got the raw end of this deal.
Enes Kanter has been, up until his last couple of games, a superb player for the Thunder. I was a little concerned about his knees, but up until a disagreement with a chair, Kanter has been reliable.
Kanter has been an offensive machine, scoring 14.3 points and collecting 8.2 rebounds per game, primarily as a sixth man. The job that he is doing with the second unit is impressive.
Jackson was going to be the scoring punch off the bench for the OKC Thunder to propel them to a championship. Unfortunately due to Jackson tasting starting with Westbrook injured, he was not happy to go back into his role. The pouting could be seen all the way across the Pacific.
Sam Presti did an amazing job getting a bench presence who is good enough to carry the second unit, despite the fact that Kanter is not so good on the defensive end.
Where to Now for the OKC Thunder?
This question has troubled me since a certain forward went over to the dark side last summer. Westbrook is a superstar, putting up incredible numbers all season and carrying the Thunder on his back.
Steven Adams has improved out of sight over the past few years and has formed a bond with Westbrook which is amazing to watch. Adams is the key to the defense of the Thunder and is showing good signs of life offensively.
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Domantas Sabonis is improving and will be a good player for the Thunder for years to come. With Kanter off the bench, the Thunder need a good point guard to move the ball on offense when Westbrook is sitting down.
If the OKC Thunder do this, then Cameron Payne can move to his more natural position as a two guard. If the ball moves more then Kanter becomes more dangerous. I am not sure if this means that the Thunder will compete for the title next season but they will improve again.
All in all, this trade has been fantastic for the OKC Thunder. To actually get a player who has been as good as Kanter for a player who was out the door was a masterstroke.
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