Reggie Jackson

Free Agent Stock Watch: Playoff Edition

Throughout the season, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. With the playoffs in full swing, we take a look at players on teams still alive in the postseason:

Lou Williams, Hawks, 34, PG/SG (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $24MM deal in 2018

When the Clippers and Hawks swapped veteran point guards at the trade deadline, the general consensus was that Los Angeles pulled off a coup landing Rajon Rondo. It doesn’t look that way right now. Rondo has only played nine minutes in the last four games against Utah, while Williams had 15 points, three assists and two steals in 23 minutes during Atlanta’s dramatic Game 5 comeback at Philadelphia on Wednesday.

Williams may not possess Rondo’s leadership qualities, but he’s been instant offense for many seasons wherever he’s played. The 34-year-old has been in the league since 2005 but he can stick around a few more seasons due to his offensive prowess.

Jeff Green, Nets, 34, PF (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2.56MM deal in 2020

It’s amazing to think that the Jazz had no use for Green midway through last season and put him on waivers. The Rockets scooped him up and he was highly productive. He’s doing the same thing for the Nets. After a solid regular season, Green battled a foot injury that sidelined him for six postseason games. Back in action, Green delivered a monster performance in Game 5 against Milwaukee, firing in 27 points while draining 7-of-8 3-point attempts. Green won’t have any trouble finding work as an unrestricted free agent this summer, whether he re-signs with Brooklyn or joins another contender.

Reggie Jackson, Clippers, 31, PG (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2.33MM deal in 2020

A TNT broadcaster called Jackson “Mr. June” as he made several clutch baskets in Game 5 at Utah on Wednesday. He’s not on the level of baseball’s “Mr. October” but this Reggie Jackson is proving to be a consistent playoff performer for the Clippers. He averaged 15.4 PPG against Dallas in the opening round, including a 25-point outing in Game 6. He scored 29 points in Game 2 and 22 in Game 5 against the Jazz. Jackson has also kept his turnovers down to a minimum. After having to settle for the veteran’s minimum in free agency last year, he’s due for a substantial raise when he enters the market again this summer.

Mike Conley, Jazz, 33, PG (Down) – Signed to a five-year, $152.6MM deal in 2016

Conley finally got his first taste of the All-Star Game this season. He got off to an impressive start in these playoffs, scoring 20 or more points in the first three games against Memphis. The injury bug soon bit him as Utah closed out the series and he’s been sidelined with a hamstring strain throughout the second round. That’s the main concern with Conley as he enters unrestricted free agency – he’s had numerous leg injuries in recent seasons. That could limit the amount of years teams will be willing to offer him.

Clippers Notes: All-Star Duo, PG-13, Jackson, Jazz Series

Clippers All-Star forwards Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are starting to exhibit their full potential as a tandem in these playoffs, writes Mark Medina of USA Today. The two stars made key contributions on both sides of the ball in the Clippers’ victory over the Jazz at the Staples Center yesterday to improve their second-round series record to just 2-1 in favor of Utah.

“They are two of the best in the league,” Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue said last night of Leonard and George. “I don’t go to Mastro’s (an upscale L.A. restaurant) to order a ketchup. I go there to order a steak. And tonight, our guys want steak.”

Medina notes that both players have improved their scoring efficiency and remained healthier than they did last season. A lot is riding on how the Clippers fare in the playoffs this year. Leonard is anticipated to decline his $36MM player option for the 2021/22 season and sign a new long-term deal with the club this summer, while George inked a four-year, $190MM extension with L.A. during the 2020 offseason. Medina wonders if Leonard may reconsider or George may become a trade candidate should the Clippers flame out in the postseason for the second consecutive season.

There’s more out of Los Angeles:

  • George’s terrific three-point shooting in the first half helped spark a crucial 132-106 Clippers victory over the Jazz on Saturday night, writes Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. He connected on four triples in the first half and shot 6-of-10 from deep overall.
  • Clippers starting point guard Reggie Jackson has evolved into a reliable third scoring option during this postseason, writes Royce Young of ESPN. The 31-year-old’s three-point shooting and ball handling have helped open up scoring options for stars George and Leonard. Across 10 playoff games thus far, Jackson is averaging 16.3 PPG (on 48.3% shooting from the floor), 2.8 RPG, and 2.7 APG in 29.3 MPG. Jackson appears to have outplayed the $1.6MM veteran’s minimum contract he inked with the club during the 2020 offseason, when he was slated to be a reserve behind original starting point guard Patrick Beverley, who is scheduled to earn $14.3MM in 2021/22, his age-33 season.
  • With the Clippers securing a pivotal Game 3 win Saturday against the top-seeded Jazz, the team may have found a method for winning the whole series, writes Tony Jones of The Athletic. L.A.’s switch-everything defense and impressively effective offensive shot diet made for one of the club’s best games this postseason, Jones writes.

Los Angeles Notes: George, Leonard, Zubac, Beverley, KCP, Vaccine

The Clippers averted a three-game deficit by defeating the Mavericks 118-108 in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series on Friday. Paul George says the Clippers’ victory is meaningless unless they build on that victory, Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times tweets. “We’ve yet to show anything. We’re down 2-1,” George said. “We’re not the favorites, we’re not the defending champs. We haven’t showed anything. We’ve got to continue doing it.”

We have more on the Los Angeles teams:

  • George and Kawhi Leonard took a lot of heat after the Clippers dropped the first two games of the series at home but they combined for 65 points in Game 3. Teammate Marcus Morris defended the superstar forward duo afterward, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN writes. “Those guys are killers,” Morris said. “No matter what’s being said in the media and what’s being said in the outside world, them guys come in and work their (butts) off every single game.”
  • Ivica Zubac only played 11 minutes in Game 3 even though Serge Ibaka was sidelined by a back injury. Patrick Beverley only saw six minutes of action with Reggie Jackson moving into the starting lineup. Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue said Zubac and Beverley handled their reduced roles in a “professional manner,” Medina tweets.
  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope underwent an MRI on his bruised left quad Friday and the results were promising, Dave McMenamin of ESPN tweets. The MRI revealed no tear. The Lakers guard will see how he responds to rest and treatment on Saturday in order to determine his status for Game 4 against Phoenix on Sunday.
  • The Lakers reached the vaccine threshold earlier this week, which allowed them to utilize their film room for the first time this season on Wednesday. They also didn’t have to wear face masks, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports“You don’t realize how important and productive it is to have film sessions in an intimate setting until you lose it,” a Lakers player told Haynes.

L.A. Notes: Clippers, Davis, Schröder, Drummond

The Clippers insist they’re not worried about their current predicament, even though they’re halfway to a first-round loss that could be franchise altering, writes Mirjam Swanson of The Orange County Register. Calmness was the message repeated by players and coaches after dropping two games to Dallas on their home court.

“No worries,” guard Reggie Jackson said today in a Zoom session with reporters, echoing the sentiments of his coach, Tyronn Lue, who stated, “I’m not concerned.” Although the Clippers remain confident, they may be stuck with a bad matchup. With Kawhi Leonard and Paul George having to supply so much of the team’s offense, it’s difficult for them to also guard Luka Doncic, who is averaging 35.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 9.0 assists in the first two games of the series.

“They feed off it tremendously,” Jackson said. “When (Doncic) looks like he’s having fun, they’re all cool, calm and collected. We’ve got to figure out a way to rattle him, rattle the head of the snake first and then let everybody else kind of get rattled as well.”

There’s more from L.A.:

  • John Hollinger of The Athletic considers possible steps that Clippers owner Steve Ballmer might take if the team is eliminated in the first round. Those could include front office changes, trying to trade for a rim protector or possibly dealing George. The team also faces the prospect of losing Leonard, who is expected to opt out of his contract this summer.
  • After a disappointing Game 1 performance, the LakersAnthony Davis made a statement with 34 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and three blocks in the Game 2 win over the Suns. Davis’ outburst began with a spirited practice session Monday, according to Chris Haynes of The Athletic. “We knew AD was locked in and we expected this performance,” Jared Dudley said. “You could see it in him these last few days.”
  • The Lakers also got a lift from Dennis Schröder and Andre Drummond, who will both be free agents this summer, writes Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Schroder poured in 24 points, while Drummond contributed 15 points and 12 rebounds. “Dennis was in attack mode from the very beginning,” LeBron James said. “…  And I thought big Dre was amazing in the minutes he had. … He was just very decisive with his play tonight and I think it’s his sixth playoff game, maybe six or seven, that he’s had in his career, so he’s going to continue to get better and better.”

Pacific Notes: Bagley, Fox, Toscano-Anderson, Jackson

Marvin Bagley III may be on the move after this season, according to James Ham of NBC Sports California (video link). The second overall pick in the 2018 draft is averaging 13.9 PPG and 7.4 RPG but the Kings‘ power forward hasn’t played since mid-March due to a hand injury.

“His name came up at the trade deadline,” Ham said. “It’s very possible he will not be with this team after this summer. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes.”

Bagley is eligible for a rookie scale extension before next season but Ham is skeptical the Kings will pursue a new deal. “I don’t think there’s any way he’s getting his extension,” Ham said.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox will be sidelined up to two weeks after entering the league’s health and safety protocols. That means Tyrese Haliburton will be in the lineup, going against top perimeter defenders, and Delon Wright will see his minutes expand, Jason Jones of The Athletic tweets.
  • The Warriors’ Juan Toscano-Anderson considers himself a “fringe” player until he receives some contractual security, Steve Berman of NBC Sports Bay Area tweets. “Until I sign my name on that dotted line with a guaranteed contract, I’m still going to treat myself as a fringe NBA player,” he said. “My back’s always against the wall.” Toscano-Anderson is on a two-way contract with Golden State.
  • Reggie Jackson is enjoying a bounce-back season after re-signing with the Clippers for the veteran’s minimum and he’s having fun again, he told Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times“Just be ready for anything and be appreciative of what’s going on and really just re-fall in love with the game,” he said. Jackson is averaging 10.5 PPG and 3.2 APG and shooting a career-high 44.1% from deep.

Los Angeles Notes: Drummond, Jackson, Rondo, LeBron

Lakers center Andre Drummond put forth a key performance in the team’s win over the Nets on Saturday, guiding the club to a 126-101 victory, Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times writes.

Drummond finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds in just over 22 minutes of action. He served as an enforcer on both ends of the floor, controlling the interior and pounding Brooklyn on the glass.

“He can do that against opposing centers,” coach Frank Vogel said of Drummond. “He can beat them up with his physicality, on the post or on drives, on the offensive glass and then he can more than hold his own and guard his position defensively as well as all the pick-and-roll defensive coverages that we put him [in] as well. He’s a two-way player and it’s a great sign to see him stepping up as a leader the way he did tonight.”

There’s more from Los Angeles today:

  • The Clippers plan to start Reggie Jackson at point guard for “the long haul” with Patrick Beverley sidelined, coach Tyronn Lue said, as relayed by Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter link). Beverley is expected to miss at least three-to-four weeks after suffering a fracture of the fourth metacarpal bone in his left hand.
  • Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe explores Clippers veteran Rajon Rondo‘s case for the Hall of Fame. Rondo is a two-time NBA champion, four-time All-Star and has made four All-Defensive teams in his career, playing 15 seasons with eight teams.
  • Mark Medina of USA TODAY examines LeBron James‘ ankle injury, with the help of opinions from various medical experts. James sustained a high ankle sprain on March 20 and has missed 11 straight games for the Lakers, though a recent report from ESPN indicated that he’s likely to return in three weeks.

Clippers’ Beverley Has Fractured Hand, Undergoes Surgery

Clippers guard Patrick Beverley underwent surgery on Friday to repair a fracture of the fourth metacarpal bone in his left hand, the team’s PR department tweets. He’ll be re-evaluated in three or four weeks and there’s no timetable for his return.

Beverley suffered the injury while pursuing a rebound in the fourth quarter against Phoenix on Thursday. He had just returned to action after missing nearly four weeks due to a right knee injury.

Beverley has started all 31 games he’s played this season. The defensive specialist is averaging 8.0 PPG, 3.6 RPG and 2.1 APG.

Beverley, 32, is signed through next season. He’s making $13.3MM this season and will bank $14.3MM in his walk year.

Given there’s no timetable for his return, Beverley could be out until the postseason. Beverley’s injury opens the door for more playing time for Reggie Jackson, recently-acquired Rajon Rondo and Terance Mann. Luke Kennard could also see additional ball-handling duties.

Pacific Notes: R. Jackson, Morris, Bjelica, Suns

Reggie Jackson gave the Clippers a solid performance Friday night in his first action since learning he was out of coach Tyronn Lue‘s reduced rotation, writes Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. Jackson contributed 11 points, four rebounds and three assists in 18 minutes after sitting out the previous two games. The 30-year-old guard, who will be a free agent after this season, was told last Saturday that he will no longer have guaranteed minutes every night.

“It was a hard conversation for me because I thought he was actually playing well,” Lue said. “But we couldn’t play all the guys, you know that coming into the season. … I talked to Reggie and he took it well. When you are a veteran and you’re a pro and you want to win, you do whatever it takes to try to win. I told him to stay ready, it’s a long season, with the COVID, injuries, things like that, you got to be ready.”

Jackson found out at Friday’s shootaround that he would be in the starting lineup, and Lue was happy that he didn’t try to do too much on his own. One highlight for Jackson was a rare dunk in the second half.

“Feels good, especially at 30, getting teased by my teammates, seeing an open lane and having a chance to attack,” Jackson said. “I had an injury-plagued past few years so just feeling like I’m getting my legs back under me and to feel somewhat 20 again, it felt great to go out there and get a dunk.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Clippers forward Marcus Morris says the NBA’s decision to begin the season in December threw off his recovery timeline, Greif adds in the same story. Morris said tendinitis prevented him from doing offseason workouts and he was timing his recovery for a January start. He remains on a minutes limit, but hasn’t had any trouble with his knees since training camp began.
  • The Kings haven’t used Nemanja Bjelica in their past three games, but the decision is only temporary, tweets Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. Coach Luke Walton is experimenting with defensive rotations and has told Bjelica he will get another chance soon.
  • The Suns‘ last three games have been postponed due to health and safety protocols, but a league source told Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic that Monday’s contest in Memphis “looks good to go.” Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins is also optimistic that the game will be played. “All I know is that everything is kind of full go right now,” he said. “There’s some final checkmarks that need to be taken care of, obviously, for Phoenix to get back on track, but we’re all hopeful we are able to play on Monday.”

Clippers Notes: Kennard, Batum, Zubac, Ibaka

Luke Kennard and Nicolas Batum, two important offseason additions for the Clippers, haven’t played a regular season NBA game in nearly a year, writes Mirjam Swanson of The Orange County Register. Both players are trying to use the shortened preseason to get ready for opening night, which is just six days away.

The Pistons shut down Kennard last December 21 because of knee tendinitis. He had been hoping to return March 14, but the hiatus kept that from happening. Batum appeared in just 22 games last season, limited by injuries and the Hornets’ preference to give minutes to their younger players.

“The first (preseason) game was kind of weird,” Batum said. “I just wanted to go out there and just be back on the court and just play basketball and do some stuff and be sure I don’t do some crazy mistake. That’s really my goal the first two games, to be back on the court and get through the motion and get my rhythm and the feel for the court.”

There’s more Clippers news to pass along:

  • Ivica Zubac is adjusting to his new role as backup center, notes Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. Zubac is expected to play similar minutes as in the past, but he will be on the court with a different set of teammates. “Zu specifically, he just has to get better with his hands,” said Lou Williams, the leader of the team’s second unit. “That was a conversation we spoke to. I’m a willing passer and he knows that. And so for him to be successful and get a lot of easy looks, we’re gonna have to get better and get on the same page with that. Other than that, I look forward to growing with him.”
  • Kennard and Serge Ibaka are both better fits for the Clippers than the players they replaced, contends John Hollinger of The Athletic. He sees Kennard, who can help run the offense, as a more complete player than Landry Shamet and notes that Ibaka’s ability to space the floor makes him more versatile than Montrezl Harrell. Hollinger opines that Paul George won’t be able to live up to his new four-year, $176MM contract, but thinks it still makes sense for the team, since the focus is on competing for a title in the next two seasons.
  • Reggie Jackson and assistant coach Chauncey Billups both returned to the team after being excused from Sunday’s game due to health and safety protocols, tweets Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.

L.A. Notes: Horton-Tucker, LeBron, AD, COVID-19, Mann

With his second consecutive impressive preseason performance on Sunday, second-year Lakers guard Talen Horton-Tucker is making a strong case to be part of the team’s regular season rotation, as ESPN’s Dave McMenamin writes.

“It’s going to make my job difficult for sure,” head coach Frank Vogel said when asked about finding a role for Horton-Tucker, who poured in 33 points in Sunday’s win to go along with 10 rebounds, four assists, and four steals.

“We have a very deep team. No minutes are guaranteed,” Vogel added. “He’s going to keep playing at a high level, and that should push everybody else to stay playing at a high level. It does give us that luxury of having him carry the load some for some of our guys who played deep in the championship run last year and had a short offseason.”

Even if the Lakers stay relatively healthy this season, the club should prioritize finding regular minutes for Horton-Tucker, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, who says the franchise will need to develop young talent if it wants to remain a title contender for years to come

Here’s more on the NBA’s two Los Angeles-based teams:

  • Lakers superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis didn’t play at all during the team’s first two preseason contests, but they’ll both be “ready to go” when the regular season gets underway next week, according to Vogel (link via Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times).
  • Both the Lakers and Clippers were missing players on Sunday due to “excused absences” believed to be related to the NBA’s coronavirus protocols, writes Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. Those absences may be related to inconclusive tests or contact tracing, so they don’t necessarily mean the individual tested positive for COVID-19, according to Greif, who notes that the Lakers were without Kostas Antetokounmpo and Devontae Cacok, while the Clippers were missing Reggie Jackson and assistant coach Chauncey Billups.
  • Although Terance Mann has seen some time at shooting guard and small forward, the Clippers view the 24-year-old as a point guard and expect him to be a key contributor off the bench, as Mirjam Swanson of The Orange County Register writes.