In a trade proposal that would have sent Eric Bledsoe to Detroit, New Orleans would have disposed of the burdensome contracts of Omer Asik and Alexis Ajinca to Phoenix. The cost, of course, would have involved a prized future asset — in this case, the Pelicans 2018 first round pick.
On it’s face the trade proposal is entirely understandable from the front office’s perspective. Regardless of their health statuses, Asik and Ajinca do not figure at all into the plans of the current regime. Alvin Gentry and the rest of the coaching staff have implemented a style of basketball that begs for speed and a variety of skills on both sides of the ball.
Jackson and his averages of 16.4 points and 6.0 assists, on the other hand, could be useful. For a team that’s lacked consistent individual offensive contributions next to Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, Jackson’s scoring and playmaking could alleviate the dependency on Jrue Holiday, E’Twaun Moore and others in the backcourt.
Looking deeper though, I’m not sure the deal would have worked out as happily as most fans envision.
Recall Jackson’s knee injury history, one that goes back eight years! He has dealt with tendinitis in his left knee since his sophomore season at Boston College, and after entering the league, he’s had at least several platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections, five years apart.
Many close followers of the Pistons noticed Jackson lacked his familiar burst last season, so this past summer, he was told to follow a 16-week rehab, which at the end, proclaimed himself good to go.
“With my knee, I’m feeling good,” said Jackson in September. “With the health of it, I’m feeling great. I just got to do the best I can to take care of it. The team is doing a great job of monitoring it. I’ve had no setbacks. I’m on pace, which is to be ready by training camp.”
He kept his promise. Despite some restrictions during exhibition play, Jackson has been upright through the first eight games of the regular season, too. In an average of 28.8 minutes per game, he’s currently posting the highest offensive rating rating and the lowest turnover percentage of his career... but I remain unconvinced.
First, some of his stats seem somewhat misleading because red flags are aplenty. His conversion rate and attempts at the rim are the lowest of his career — problems getting to and finishing at the hoop? Rather, his career-best true shooting percentage is being buoyed by a 50+ field goal percentage from a large number of shots between three to sixteen feet. Not only, ugh, midrange attempts in a Chris Finch offense, regression could come swiftly.
Next, realize degenerative tendonosis issues do not go away — Jackson’s been plagued for years. Once the dog days of the schedule hit and player minutes surpass the 1,000 barrier, issues could re-emerge. The last thing this injury-stricken roster needs is to add another name to it’s DNP list.
Lastly, Jackson’s fit with the Pelicans is interesting to consider. While the team could use another scorer, New Orleans is already loaded at the guard positions. Plus, Jackson has never proven to be a reliable outside volume shooter. Once Rajon Rondo returns, Jackson, and his $16 million salary, would most likely move to the bench. And don’t forget that he’s still owed over $35 million in the future, on a salary cap sheet that hopes to find a way to retain Boogie next to an already expensive Holiday and Davis.
For a team hugging the hard cap — and they would creep closer to the do-not-pass line in the proposed deal, fielding a major hole at small forward and lacking a viable backup center, call me skeptical Jackson represents the best route at this time. Removing the dead weight of Asik and Ajinca for immediate production sounds heavenly for a Pelicans team that’s struggled to a 3-5 record thus far, but don’t let desperation cloud your judgement.
- Not when Asik may be in line for a medical retirement — hence a better solution for removing his salary from the books.
- Not when future assets could be saved for more fitting targets — a forward who can knock down jumpers?
- And not for a player whose current team has long dealt with Jackson’s injury woes and has been trying to move him since the last trade deadline — no more injury-riddled guards in New Orleans, please!