Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Reggie Jackson has been pulling out all the stops in a team facing difficult circumstances in a tightly competitive NBA Western Conference this season. Despite his best efforts, the Thunder has brought up his name for trade.
According to a report from Givemesport.com by Alex Johnson, Jackson has proven time and again about his development into an excellent player in spite of the Thunder falling short. Unfortunately, the Thunder decided not to extend him, making him a restricted free agent in the offseason.
"Part of the issue for the Thunder is that Jackson is a point guard and it doesn't make a lot of sense to overpay him when Westbrook is already under a multi-year contract," wrote Jesse Blancarte in a Basketball Insiders report.
Jackson has been successfully filling in for Thunder teammates Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, who have both faced various injuries going back to last season. According to Basketball Insiders, Oklahoma City's investment in their point guard has paid off, with Jackson averaging 13.1 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4.1 assists in 80 games.
Jackson's trade prospects have brought up concerns that date back to 2012. During that time, the Thunder ended up not giving James Harden a max deal and traded him to the Houston Rockets.
"This is the same problem that forced the Los Angeles Clippers to trade Eric Bledsoe last year for J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley," Blancarte wrote. "Jackson is unlikely to require the same sort of contract that Bledsoe eventually got as a restricted free agent this offseason, but the Thunder, as a small-market team, are especially concerned about maintaining financial flexibility."
According to Blancarte, that action has raised questions about whether the Thunder cares more about their bottom line as opposed to securing a championship.
Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahomian talked with Harden about a potential trade of Jackson. Mayberry noted that Harden had some advice for the point guard, given that their situations were quite similar.
"I fell into the same situation, and that could have been my only contract, and I'm sure Reggie feels the same way," Harden said. "He has to get the money that he's earned and that he's worked his whole life for. It's the nature of the business. It's going to happen every single year and it's going to continue to happen."
The difference between the trades of Harden and Jackson, according to Mayberry, is that the Rockets desperately wanted Harden on their roster. On the other hand, Jackson has to woo other teams with his performance on the court.
"I just said to him, keep going out there and hooping," Harden said. "Do what you're doing; going out there, being aggressive and attacking, being the vocal leader that you are and everything will fall into place."
Harden later added that Jackson has a great opportunity to shine and lead the team, noting that "He's handling it the right way."