After a disappointing first half of the season, the Pistons are 20-24 and in 10th place in the Eastern Conference. Following last season’s trip to the playoffs, that might not be good enough to suit Stan Van Gundy, the Pistons coach and team president.
So, he could be looking to make a deal to shake things up.
According to a report on Friday by ESPN’s Marc Stein and Chris Haynes, the Pistons have had discussions with the Minnesota Timberwolves for a multi-player trade, which would include exchanging point guards Reggie Jackson and Ricky Rubio, with other players potentially being involved if a deal is completed.
Van Gundy denied the rumor, categorizing it as typical probing any team does before the trade deadline, led by general manager Jeff Bower.
Van Gundy told The Detroit News: “Jeff is in constant contact with every other NBA team — as he should be. That is normal NBA personnel work. Nothing more. Nothing less.”
As of Saturday morning, there was no deal on the brink of completion, but it’s not to say that things hadn’t been discussed — at least in the preliminary stages.
“Sources told ESPN that no deal appeared imminent Friday but said the teams have engaged in dialogue this week,” the report said.
The Pistons had a slow start, going 11-10, after Jackson missed the first 21 games of the regular season because of tendinitis in his left knee and right thumb. In the 23 games since Jackson’s return, the Pistons are 9-14.
The talk of a trade is surprising because Jackson was viewed as a central cog of the Pistons’ future plans after signing a five-year, $80-million deal in the summer of 2015. Jackson, who is averaging 16.7 points and 5.3 assists this season, has seen his production drop as he’s worked his way back from the injury.
Jackson has formed a potent duo in Van Gundy’s pick-and-roll offense with 23-year-old center Andre Drummond, who signed a five-year max deal worth $130 million last summer. There have been questions about his impact on the defensive end of the court, but Rubio, 26, could provide an upgrade on defense. He could also bring less production on offense, as he averages 7.7 points and 7.9 assists this season.
Making a move for Rubio, who is in his sixth season, would signal a stark change in direction, as Rubio is hitting just 24 percent on 3-pointers and averages 32 minutes in 38 games this season.
Rubio has two years and $29 million left on his contract after this season and is making $13.5 million this year.
He could be made available as the Timberwolves look to add more scoring to their core of young, budding stars in center Karl-Anthony Towns, wing Andrew Wiggins and rookie point guard Kris Dunn.