A story on ESPN from Marc Stein and Chris Haynes reports that the Wolves and Pistons have discussed a trade centering around Ricky Rubio and Reggie Jackson. There is no indication that something is close to happening, but it is one of the first stories we’ve seen suggesting the possible parameters of a return for Rubio, who is once again said to be on the block.
This strikes me as a bad idea for the Wolves, for several reasons. First, I believe that Rubio is a better player than Jackson, so the return is a downgrade, before even factoring in salary. Jackson has an extra year and more dollars on his contract.
Which makes little sense if Tom Thibodeau is still looking for Kris Dunn to take over at point guard at some point in the near or medium term future. There has been discussion of acquiring a “bridge” guard if a Rubio trade is consummated; someone who can fill in while Dunn continues to develop, but Jackson is a looooong bridge.
Additionally, Jackson seems a terrible fit for this team. In a typically excellent article yesterday in the MinnPost, Britt Robson wrote that Thibs’ plan is clearly to focus on the development of Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and Zach LaVine both individually, and more importantly as as trio (I refuse to refer to them as a “big three” until they actually, you know, do something.)
By now it is obvious to the point of patent truth that Thibodeau has decided that this season will be devoted not only to Towns, Wiggins and LaVine playing together as much as possible, but doing so as the coach points out every mistake and foible in their processing, both on the sideline as they commit them, and in the film room later.
That has led to a refusal to play guys like Brandon Rush, even when they might help the team. Whatever you think of this plan, it’s clearly the direction Thibs is going.
Reggie Jackson doesn’t fit. He’s yet another high usage player, which is the last thing the Wolves need to add to their young guys. He’ll either be misused in similar ways to Rubio (without Rubio’s defensive chops or court savvy,) or he’ll take touches and shots away from the guys Thibs is trying to develop.
Either way, adding an even bigger salary at the same position in exchange for Rubio makes no sense.
The truth is, I was sketching out a rant about the inside-the-box thinking that shopping and eventually trading Rubio represents before this rumor hit the internet. That might still come if they make a move I see as a downgrade, but suffice it to say that it strikes me as a real failure of imagination not to see how Rubio can benefit a team with three scoring stars, and to focus on him as the problem either now or going forward for this team.
As it stands, trading him for Reggie Jackson makes even less sense than much of what I’ve imagined. The Wolves are in real need of help: Size, defense, and shooting on the wing, a playable power forward, etc.
Of course if they trade Rubio “starting point guard” also becomes a need (an excellent reason not to trade him,) but this swap appears to be a negative both short and long term for the Wolves, unless there is significantly more to it.
Of course, 99% of what gets reported as “being discussed” never actually happens, and often even calling them “discussions” overstates the case, so like all potential deals, it must be considered unlikely. But it is not an enjoyable prospect to speculate on, at least for me.
What say you?