Norwegian Wood (This Bird has Flown)

Yesterday (2/18/2020), the Detroit Pistons bought out their veteran point guard Reggie Jackson. As a Detroit fan, I have mixed feelings.

First, let me get one thing straight; I’m ecstatic that Reggie Jackson is no longer a Piston. Here are some reasons why:

  1. His entire Pistons tenure is defined by his time spent off the court, rather than on.
  2. His playmaking was rendered obsolete upon the arrival of Blake Griffin.
  3. His playmaking was rendered obsolete upon the arrival of Derrick Rose.
  4. He lacked the outside shooting capability to help the team after the ball was taken out of his hands.
  5. His inconsistency made it impossible for the front office, coaches, and fans to know what they were dealing with.

That last one is the kicker. Upon his arrival, Jackson was viewed as a core member of an up and coming team. His playmaking combined with Andre Drummond’s rim running spelled potential danger for opposing teams. As time progressed however, it became apparent that Stan Van Gundy’s plan for the team had a much lower trajectory than intended. Noting that his job was in danger, Van Gundy made many desperate attempts to save himself (see Reason No.2), and instead pushed the hope of contention much further away from Detroit than can be deemed measurable.

At the start of the 2019-2020 season, the Detroit Pistons, as an organization, set a goal to make the playoffs. This not only underlined a colossal sense of delusion regarding the team’s ability to make the playoffs, but also exposed the teams reluctance to embrace the magic word: tank.

Now with the departure of Reggie Jackson, the Pistons have seemingly, finally, changed course. This brings forth our 6th and 7th reasons for being happy Reggie has left:

  1. The Detroit Pistons can finally be as bad as they were meant to be.
  2. Our young players can take on more significant roles.

In classic Pistons fashion, however, this long overdue shift in attention comes with multiple drawbacks. Here are a few:

  1. The Pistons waited far too long to get rid of Reggie Jackson
  2. The Pistons received nothing for Reggie Jackson

These reasons go hand in hand. Vacating Jackson’s $17 million/year contract does not directly benefit the team at all. Seeing as the team will not be ready to contend for many years, the additional cap space for this summer only leaves room for the Pistons to make another mistake, and sign a player that has already seen the best of his playing days. Additionally, Detroit is not an attractive market for free agents, or so I’ve been told, so the odds of signing anyone actually worth $17 million would be low anyways. Actually, let me correct that, the odds don’t exist, it won’t happen. Reggie Jackson’s expiring contract could have been traded away to a bigger market team with young players and draft picks to spare (hello, Knicks?), or to playoff teams in need of playmaking. Or anyone… literally anyone. 

In all honesty, I would’ve been happy with anything we could have received for Jackson in a trade. In fact, I’m still happy about the package we received for Andre. That’s the entire premise of trading away an expiring contract: no matter what you receive, it will be more than you would have been left with had that player walked away in free agency. For the same reason, I’m pissed Langston Galloway wasn’t traded before the deadline either.

So now, with Blake Griffin on the books until 2022, the Pistons have a deadline for themselves to be ready to spend on free agents. In the meantime, the future of the team will largely be determined by the draft. While the benefits of Jackson’s departure far outweigh the costs, the Pistons have made it no easier on themselves to build a team worthy of landing a big free agent in 2022. Honestly, it would have been better if Jackson walked in free agency, at least then the Western Conference Finals would be more interesting.

The anarchist in me still has some hope that Reggie will tear apart the Clippers from the inside. Nevertheless, RIP Bobby. You will not be missed.

Categories: Detroit, NBA

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