The Oklahoma City Thunder have been described as an organization that drafts too well. That’s why they were unable to hang on to Jeff Green and James Harden.
Reggie Jackson may be the next player in line to leave OKC, who may not be able to offer the young point guard what he wants.
Thunder beat writer Darnell Mayberry had this to say following the Thunder’s loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on New Year’s Eve:
Using Jackson in this fashion is seriously the biggest reason why I think his days in OKC are numbered. There’s no reason a guy as talented as he is, with Russell Westbrook sidelined, should be subject to such sporadic minutes. He’s better than a backup at this point but will never start in OKC. And unless he’s getting not just starter’s minutes, but also sensible minutes, why stick around? Not to mention the money aspect. Remember this night when it comes time for Jackson to make a decision on his future.
Jackson played just 29 minutes in the loss vs. Portland while Brooks went with Derek Fisher quite a bit (19 minutes).
Mayberry points out that Jackson’s future with the Thunder would be one in which he comes off the bench as the team’s sixth man. He’s obviously never going to start over Russell Westbrook, and starting beside him may be pretty unlikely as well.
Thabo Sefolosha is here now but possibly not past this season. In line to take over the starting two-guard spot may very well be Jeremy Lamb or even Andre Roberson (who has started in that spot when Thabo has missed games this season).
Brooks will probably see Jackson as a more valuable player coming off the bench similar to how he saw Harden. This is true in many cases, but for a young player looking out for his future, coming off the pine instead of going somewhere he might be able to start may not be very attractive.
The worry is not only that the Thunder aren’t utilizing Jackson in a way that will be attractive to him, but also that he will just get too good. I doubt he will become a max-level guy after next season, but he may get into the Goran Dragic or Eric Bledsoe territory in terms of salary. You know the Thunder won’t be in a position to throw upwards of $10 million at Jackson.
The real question is: should we even be worried that Jackson may not be playing for the Thunder past next season? Sure, it would be nice to have a stud backup point guard for years to come, but what team has ever been able to have that luxury?
Losing out on Harden, and even Green to an extent, hurt. They were seen as pieces for the future. But you really can’t get too worked up over losing role players. To the Thunder, Jackson really is just a role player. He’s been great this season but the Thunder are only in the business of locking up players that are irreplaceable or they can get at great value. Jackson will likely be neither of those things after next season.