For NBA nerds world wide, the looming trade deadline is a never-ending argument of what teams need, don’t need, who sucks, who doesn’t suck, who says no, and money that isn't theirs.
Unfortunately, I’m one of those nerds.
While trade talk is certainly fun, if the Pistons aren’t trading for a singular player that has the ability to change the trajectory of this team or someone who can grow with the core, they shouldn’t be partaking in talks this year.
We’ve seen point guard names like Eric Bledsoe and Ricky Rubio floated around over the past couple weeks. Let me add a few more: Goran Dragic, Jrue Holiday, George Hill, Kemba Walker, Dennis Schroder, Jeff Teague and Mike Conley.
What do they all have in common?
They’re all good to very good players - some are even All-Stars - that can lead a team. You know who else is on that level? Reggie Jackson.
Jackson’s taken a lot of heat from the Pistons’ faithful and has since been involved in fake trade discussions on Twitter and in message boards internet wide.
Take any of the point guards listed earlier and put them on the Pistons in place of Jackson. Does the ceiling of this team increase? If it does, I’d love to hear your case.
The answer, in my opinion, is no. At best, replacing Jackson with any one of those players will ultimately lead the Pistons to an alternate route of getting beat in the second round. We’d be stuck in mid-2000’s Atlanta Hawks’ purgatory. Hard pass.
So what’s the point of including Reggie in any deal that would net one of those point guards in return?
Age must be taken into account when throwing around fake Pistons trades. If you’re set on dealing Jackson, the return point guard should be of a similar age of the remaining core: Andre Drummond, Stanley Johnson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Tobias Harris.
Chris Paul and Kyle Lowry are too old, cross them off.
You can take PG super-duper stars off your list as well.
Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook and James Harden would never be dealt to Detroit. Throw MVP candidate Isaiah Thomas on that list too.
John Wall, Damian Lillard and Kyrie Irving all fit the requirement of being true game-changers and are young enough to grow with this team. Does anyone see that coming? Yeah, me neither.
That leaves D’Angelo Russell and Elfrid Payton, both players’ best days are still ahead of them. I’m not advocating for either but if a Woj Bomb dropped that Jackson was in deal for Payton or Russell, that could be intriguing.
Obviously they’re flawed but both are more in line with their career peaking along side of the remaining Pistons’ core. With Russell or Payton, the ceiling is probably still topping out in the second round as-is but considering their age, they still have room to grow.
Jackson will be 27 by the time the season ends. How much better can he be? Point is, we’ve seen the best of Jackson and there is no denying his ability but that ability is tapped out and has an expiration date sooner than his teammates.
If the Pistons are to compete for a championship, they’ve got to do it organically. Detroit will never be on final five list of superstar X’s summer free agent city tour. “Superstars win championships” is the rule, with the 2004 Pistons being the lone exception.
With Russell or Payton, the team could sell me on player growth and in turn, team growth culminating in a championship. Make no mistake, it would be a ton of growth but it’s a plan. Another route is to keep Jackson and use a different asset to try and land that game changer.
I don’t see the point in trading Jackson for a “like Jackson” player. The big dogs ain’t coming here and everyone else isn’t good enough. If the Pistons move Jackson, the only two that make sense are D’Angelo Russell and Elfrid Payton.