Timberwolves, Pistons Have Discussed Rubio, Jackson

The Timberwolves and Pistons have discussed a point guard swap of Ricky Rubio and Reggie Jackson, Marc Stein of ESPN reports. Nothing is imminent, as each team is in the “talking stage,” and as Stein notes, any deal would expand to involve other players, such as Shabazz Muhammad.

While the Timberwolves have reportedly been actively shopping Rubio, the Pistons have contended that Jackson wouldn’t be available via trade, though rival clubs aren’t so convinced. Both players have multiple years left on long-term deals, but could be available in the next month for different reasons. Jackson and the Pistons have struggled this year, and in their ESPN report, Stein and Haynes note that rookie Kris Dunn is regarded as Minnesota’s “point guard of the future,” making Rubio expendable.

The 26-year-old Rubio has averaged 7.7 points with 7.9 assists in his sixth NBA season. The Spaniard missed a five-game stretch in November due to an elbow injury, but has otherwise remained healthy in 2016/17. Now in the second year of a four-year, $55MM contract, Rubio has a cap hit of $13,400,000.

On the heels of a breakout 2015/16 campaign, Jackson’s statistics have slightly regressed this season; averaging 16.7 points with 5.3 assists through 23 games. The 26-year-old Jackson missed the season’s first 21 games with left knee tendinitis, but has come on strong of late; scoring 20.2 points on 46.4% shooting over his last 10 games.

If the Timberwolves are seeking a “bridge” guard to assume starting duties until Dunn is ready, as has been reported, Jackson would be a peculiar choice for a few reasons. Jackson is slated to make $16MM, $17MM+, and $18MM+ over the next three seasons, making him an expensive option to bridge the gap at point guard. What’s more, the role of (eventually) backing up Dunn may not come naturally to Jackson, who hasn’t played in a reserve role since 2012/13 with the Thunder.

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