Orlando Magic: Don’t Trade For Reggie Jackson

Dec 4, 2016; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Detroit Pistons guard Reggie Jackson (1) dribbles the ball against Orlando Magic center Bismack Biyombo (11) during the fourth quarter at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Magic win 98-92. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Orlando Magic look like being active before the trade deadline passes, but they should steer clear of point guard Reggie Jackson.

With the addition of Terrence Ross, it looks like the Orlando Magic still have another move in them before the trade deadline.

Who they should look to move on is anybody’s guess though, as it feels like no player is off limits.

One area where the team needs more long-term stability, however, is at the point guard position.

Although Elfrid Payton was drafted to be that player three years ago, he has been in and out of the starting lineup this season.

Starting only 34 of the team’s 58 games, he’s lost that starting position to D.J. Augustin and C.J. Watson.

While both are solid and dependable veterans, it’s got to be a worrying development for Payton’s future with the team.

Mar 23, 2016; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Detroit Pistons guard Reggie Jackson (1) controls the ball defended by Orlando Magic guard Elfrid Payton (4) during the fourth quarter at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Pistons win 118-102. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Mar 23, 2016; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Detroit Pistons guard Reggie Jackson (1) controls the ball defended by Orlando Magic guard Elfrid Payton (4) during the fourth quarter at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Pistons win 118-102. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

It’s no surprise then, that the Magic have been linked with a new point guard, in the form of Reggie Jackson of the Detroit Pistons.

While he would be an instant improvement over Payton, there are a number of reasons the team should stay away from this move at all costs.

It begins away from the numbers and production Jackson would give this team. At 26 years old, in theory the player is still yet to enter his prime.

But even on his best day, he’s not a top-five point guard in the Eastern Conference. On his worst? He might not even crack the top 10.

Obviously Jackson is not elite in the same way other guards are, otherwise the Pistons would have no reason to move him.

Again, he’s an upgrade over Payton right now, no question. But how much better can he realistically get?

Much like adding Ross, would this put a ceiling on how good the team could be? The point guard position is the most important in basketball these days.

Having Ross, Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier, Nikola Vucevic and Jackson, along with some dependable veterans, might get you into the playoffs.

But is it going to entice free agents to want to come and play there? It’s a good start having those players onboard, but not a great one.

Besides, the Magic look resigned to hitting the lottery again this summer, where there are a number of exciting point guard prospects.

Which brings us to the next key point, what the Magic would have to give up to get Jackson. Any deal would likely involve Payton.

With rumors surrounding Andre Drummond as well, would the Pistons look to add Vucevic too?

Would Detroit look for a draft pick in any potential deal? Remember, the Magic owning all of their draft picks is about as good as their future looks right now.

Is mortgaging part of that on Jackson really what the team wants to do? He only signed a five-year, $80 million deal back in 2015, so he sits on the expensive side of things as well.

Remember, Orlando already has Bismack Biyombo locked into a long-term deal, as well as Vucevic and Fournier on more team-friendly contracts.

A decision will have to be made on Gordon and Payton (if he stays) soon. That’s a lot of money to put into a collection of players, none of which look like being a star in this league.

Even if the Magic acquired Jackson for Payton and a couple of picks, some of the numbers suggest the team wouldn’t improve all that greatly.

Although he had a career year last season, Jackson has cooled off this campaign. His 15.2 points per game is the lowest output since his move to Detroit from the Oklahoma City Thunder.

That’s more than Payton is averaging (12.5), but is it enough to warrant trading for Jackson? Payton is only 22 years old himself, even if he does have a less-desirable skill set.

Despite being a starter, Jackson is averaging less minutes per game this season (28.4) than Payton (29.1).

He has also only played in 36 games, with both knee and thumb injuries keeping him out for significant periods this season.

By no means is Jackson a crock, but it is something worth taking into consideration if any deal was to be made.

Payton has played in every game this season for the Magic, and did so in his rookie season as well. Being four years younger, his body should be in a better place.

Equally concerning are some of the other numbers Jackson is posting, particularly when compared to Payton.

Jackson’s 5.6 assists per game is his lowest mark in four seasons. But it’s also actually less than Payton is averaging so far this season (5.7).

This is also reflected in the fact that Payton provides 31.8 percent of his team’s assists when on the court. That number is 31.3 for Jackson.

So really the Magic wouldn’t likely get much improvement in this area from making a trade for Jackson, although his three-point shooting (36.3 percent) would be a big upgrade.

This is because Payton is a terrible 26.8 percent shooter from long range. Interestingly, however, he’s already made more of these shots (34) than he did all of last season (30).

Hardly the kind of improvement to get excited about, but at least he is trending in the right direction.

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Payton also boasts a better effective field goal percentage (48.3 percent to Jackson’s 47.9 percent).

Defensively Jackson is pretty poor (rating of minus-1.9, career low) and it remains to be see how he would gel with a defensive-minded head coach in Frank Vogel.

Offensively he may be much more diverse than Payton, yet his Player Efficiency Rating of 15.7 is only just ahead of Payton’s 15.4.

That number is a career high for Payton, whereas it’s Jackson’s lowest mark in four seasons, and way down on the 19.6 of last year.

If the Orlando Magic were to trade for Reggie Jackson, it’s unlikely they’d get much better in the short or long term.

A nice player who is better offensively than Payton, their numbers are actually strikingly similar in many categories, with Payton even getting the edge in some areas.

It’s the kind of trade that would shake up the roster and it could come at a price that the Magic are willing to meet.

But it feels like it would be a sideways move, as opposed to a building block in the right direction.

For this reason, the Magic need to steer clear of adding the Detroit Pistons point guard.

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