Pistons add Reggie Jackson, Tayshaun Prince in buzzer-beating deadline deals
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The Pistons addressed their present by polishing their future and dipping into their past. A trade deadline day that Stan Van Gundy proclaimed as all quiet an hour before Thursday's 3 p.m. deadline turned deafening in the final frantic minutes with the Pistons pulling off two trades for young point guard Reggie Jackson and 2004 championship team member Tayshaun Prince.
Jackson came at the cost of D.J. Augustin and Kyle Singler, Prince returning to his rich NBA roots for backup forwards Jonas Jerebko and Gigi Datome.
"Reggie is a young player with good size and length at the guard position," Stan Van Gundy said in a prepared statement. "He's been successful as a starter playing extended minutes and we feel he's a good addition to our roster."
Jackson and Singler will both be restricted free agents after the season. It's safe to assume Van Gundy is prepared to retain Jackson, but acquiring him now gives the front office 28 games to fully assess the fit and also gives the Pistons Jackson's Bird rights.
A dynamic pick-and-roll player, Jackson's offensive potential has been largely stunted by the superstar tandem of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. He's averaging 12.8 points, 4.2 assists and 4.0 rebounds – the latter a terrific number for a perimeter player – in 28 minutes a game this season. He figures to have the ball in his hands far more with the Pistons.
With Augustin headed to Oklahoma City, Jackson not only steps into the starting role he covets but figures to get all the minutes he can handle with Brandon Jennings gone for the season. Jackson isn't an accomplished 3-point shooter – 29 percent over his career, 28 percent this season – but checks off just about every other box on Van Gundy's wish list.
He'll improve the Pistons' transition offense, figures to mesh well with Drummond in two-man schemes and – at 6-foot-3, 208 pounds – gives the Pistons significantly more size than Augustin or Jennings at the position. Van Gundy says if the Pistons are going to make a playoff push over the final eight weeks, it has to start with defense – and that starts with keeping opposing point guards out of the paint. Jackson's size, tenacity and quickness should markedly aid the cause.
Jackson – assuming he's retained, and the odds of a restricted free agent getting away from the Pistons when they're unencumbered by an overburdened cap structure – gives Van Gundy the luxury of not having to rely on heavy minutes for Jennings next season in his recovery from Achilles tendon repair. If Jennings is full go, Jackson's size would give Van Gundy the option of playing them in the same backcourt in athletic lineups that could also see Kentavious Caldwell-Pope at small forward.
Prince, 34, returns to the Pistons after a two-year absence. Traded to Memphis in a three-team trade that added Jose Calderon to the Pistons in January 2013, Prince comes from Boston, which sent Jeff Green to Memphis on Jan. 12.
Prince is no longer capable of logging 35-plus minutes a game, as he did in four of his 10 full seasons with the Pistons. But he still is averaging 24 minutes this season and figures to enter into a job-sharing role at small forward with Caron Butler. Prince is averaging 7.6 points – Singler averaged 7.3 in the same 24 minutes a game – and 3.2 rebounds this season and is shooting 49 percent from the 3-point line. He might not be the shutdown defender he was a decade ago, but Prince will be assignment sure and a quick fit in Van Gundy's defensive system.
"Tayshaun Prince is certainly well known to fans in Detroit and we're pleased to welcome him back," Van Gundy said. "He fills a position of need for us at small forward with his offensive and defensive versatility."
With both Singler and Datome traded – and even Jerebko, who had played some minutes at small forward lately – Cartier Martin also moves into a more prominent role, potentially.
The Pistons also signed D-League star Quincy Miller to a 10-day contract. A highly touted Baylor freshman drafted as a 19-year-old, Miller averaged 25.3 points in 15 games for Reno in the D-League this season. Miller was taken with the 38th pick, one spot ahead of where the Pistons drafted Khris Middleton. He's considered a good defender and if he can pick up his 3-point shooting slightly – Miller hit 35 percent from the arc in the D-League – he could be a find.
Other players could be added to the mix, as well. In sending away four players, trading for two and signing another, the Pistons still have one empty roster spot. And that includes John Lucas III, whose 10-day contract expires this weekend.
As well as the Pistons, 21-33, did for themselves on Thursday, the race for the playoffs might have become even tougher. Miami's acquisition of Goran Dragic – a massive upgrade at point guard – gives the Heat a leg up over the six-team field battling for the final two berths.
Miami, which also has a more favorable schedule including 17 of 30 remaining games at home, is currently tied with Charlotte at 22-30. The Hornets didn't make a move on deadline day, but picked up Mo Williams last week.
Among the three other teams lumped with the Pistons, right on the heels of Miami and Charlotte, nobody did more to help themselves than Detroit. Brooklyn added Thaddeus Young at the cost of Kevin Garnett. Indiana, which reportedly was the Pistons' primary competition to land Jackson, did nothing. Boston picked up point guard Isaiah Thomas in addition to adding Jerebko and Datome, but news that the Celtics will be without Jared Sullinger for an extended period with a foot injury figures to hinder a playoff push.