I hate to be the one to start this conversation, but someone has to stir the pot before it starts boiling. Reggie Jackson of the Oklahoma City Thunder has been playing very well, and that raises the question of whether or not the Thunder will be able to hang on to him after his contract expires. This wouldn’t be an issue if he was signed for an extended period of time, but Jackson’s contract does indeed expire after the 2014-15 NBA season.
This situation brings a bad taste to fans in OKC after they saw James Harden traded away in what could be very similar situations. I’m not saying Jackson is as good as Harden, but you could argue that his value to the team is just as important at this point. With Russell Westbrook still struggling after an early return from two knee surgeries, Jackson’s role has become that much larger.
So far this season, he’s excelled at his role. He’s currently averaging 10.8 points, four rebounds and 3.8 assists per game — outstanding numbers for a player who just got his first NBA start in last year’s playoffs. I should also mention that he’s doing all of that in just 23.5 minutes per night.
After such an amazing performance in the postseason, big things were expected of this kid. His late-game heroics has given OKC another player to go to when they need something to happen in clutch time. Kevin Durant will always be the go-to guy when big buckets are needed, but it’s good to know there are other option if it comes down to it.
Jackson’s play has also made Westbrook’s transition from injury more bearable for teammates, coaches and fans. When the two point guards are on the floor, Westbrook doesn’t have to control the offense. With Jackson as the ball-handler, Westbrook can focus more on being a scorer, even though he’s been more of a decoy at this point.
Jackson is only in his third season, and his bandwagon is getting fuller by the minute. He’s unintentionally making it harder for the Thunder to keep him around in hopes of rebuilding a team that was once complete with Harden. As the eyes of coaches, GM and owners around the league are locked in on the evolution of Jackson, they’ll be waiting in the wings to make a move if he hits the open market.
Let’s just hope this won’t be deja vu for the Thunder and their fans. Even though OKC just picked up the option on his contract this year, I’m sure they’re already planning to do whatever it takes to keep Jackson in town.