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Reggie Jackson accepts buyout as Pistons' roster shake-up continues

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Detroit — The Pistons’ changing of the guard keeps moving forward.

The roster got another shakeup Tuesday, with veteran point guard Reggie Jackson agreeing to a buyout and planning to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers for the remainder of the season, league sources confirmed to The Detroit News.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the buyout agreement. He added that the Lakers also were an option to land Jackson after he clears waivers, in what has become a race between the two Los Angeles teams to stockpile veteran talent for a potential playoff run.

Point guard Reggie Jackson will play the rest of the season with the Clippers.

Jackson, 29, is in the final year of his five-year contract worth $80 million; he was the longest-tenured player on the roster, having signed in the summer of 2015. Wednesday marks the five-year anniversary of Jackson’s trade from the Oklahoma City Thunder by then-team president Stan Van Gundy.

During the 2014-15 season, the Pistons struggled to a 5-23 start and Brandon Jennings helped steady the ship until he suffered an Achilles injury that ended his season. Van Gundy traded for Jackson, signaling his roster remake, with Jackson and Andre Drummond pairing for his preferred pick-and-roll combination.

After Drummond was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Jackson was one of the last vestiges of the Van Gundy era; the only remaining players from that group are Luke Kennard — who becomes the longest-tenured Pistons player — Blake Griffin and Langston Galloway. Galloway is in the final year of his contract and Kennard was rumored to be in trade talks before the deadline.

The Pistons, at 19-38, already were in rebuild mode, but parting with Jackson hastens the rebuilding process, leaving the Pistons with an open roster spot that they can fill with a veteran-minimum salary or by converting one of their two-way contracts — Louis King or Jordan Bone — to a standard contract and designating another player as a two-way.

After playing in the first two games this season, Jackson missed 42 games because of a back injury and returned to the lineup on Jan. 22. In the 12 games since, including eight starts, he’s posted 16.6 points, 5.3 assists and shot 39 percent on 3-pointers, in 28.8 minutes.

Jackson’s move to the Clippers provides another facilitator and scorer, complementing Lou Williams and others in what is becoming a stocked second unit, propelling toward a potential title run. Paul George, one of the Clippers’ centerpieces acquired in the offseason, and Jackson are longtime friends.

With Jackson’s contract expiring this summer, the Pistons were poised to reboot their roster, with a youth movement that includes Bruce Brown, Christian Wood, Svi Mykhailiuk and rookie Sekou Doumbouya, among others.

Jackson’s tenure with the Pistons was marked by ups and downs, including their only two playoff appearances in the past decade, in 2016 and 2019. The Pistons had a winning record when Jackson was in the lineup but struggled when he was injured, as he missed 30 games in 2016-17, 37 the following year and the 43 this season.

He played all 82 games last season, for the first time in his career. He was looking to have a turnaround season, but the back issues sidelined Jackson after the first two regular-season games.

In 2015-16, Jackson had his best season, with a first half worthy of All-Star consideration: career highs of 18.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 30.7 minutes. That included a career-best 40 points — including 26 points by Jackson in the fourth quarter — in a thrilling victory, overcoming an 18-point deficit, at Portland on Nov. 8, 2015.

Jackson’s jersey No. 1, which he wore before it was retired for Chauncey Billups, will go unworn moving forward.

In his nine NBA seasons, Jackson averaged 12.9 points, 3 rebounds and 4.4 assists and shot 34 percent on 3-pointers in 544 games. He was drafted 24th overall in the 2011 draft by the Thunder. Jackson was a valuable reserve on those Thunder teams, which had Kevin Durant, James Harden and Russell Westbrook, whom Jackson backed up.

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard