Reggie Jackson could be valuable depth signing for Cavaliers

Reggie Jackson, Denver Nuggets. (Photo by Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports)
Reggie Jackson, Denver Nuggets. (Photo by Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports) /

Currently, the Cleveland Cavaliers are set to have Ricky Rubio as their backup lead guard behind Darius Garland when it comes to the roster for next season.

Raul Neto could possibly be brought back as insurance, and he was a fill-in player for Rubio when he was sidelined for the first half of last season. Neto did do some good things in his minutes, particularly defensively, but with their being some overlap with Neto and Rubio, and Neto not being nearly the passer of Rubio, Neto seems hard-pressed to be back.

Although, it’s fair to be skeptical about Rubio’s viability from here for Cleveland.

Last season, one had to have tempered expectations for the veteran lead playmaker, of course, given how he was coming off his second ACL tear in the same left knee. Rubio had more than a year-long recovery from when he initially tore that in December of 2021, when he was proving to be a revelation for Cleveland in a move to a supersub role following his trade acquisition from the Minnesota Timberwolves in that 2021 offseason.

Rubio would return for the Cavaliers in January of 2023, and in this now-past season, didn’t look to be himself. He had 5.2 points and 3.5 assists per contest, in what amounted to 33 regular season appearances. He was not able to find much of a rhythm in games, and didn’t play much in the playoffs.

Granted, he could definitely bounce back to some degree next season, considering he’ll be much further removed from his injury, and his conditioning going into the 2023-24 campaign should be much more on-point. He’s still solid defensively, has terrific instincts and is such a gifted passer.

All of that being said, one could argue it’d be sensible for the Cavaliers to potentially bring in another veteran lead guard to have for the rotation, whether that’s via free agency or as part of a trade package.

Along those lines, while he’s not what he once was, Reggie Jackson could still be a meaningful rotational asset to have for Cleveland, and he can still help from a bench scoring and playmaking perspective.

Jackson could be a valuable depth signing for the Cavaliers this offseason.

Jackson did not have a playoff role for the Denver Nuggets in their quest to winning the NBA Finals over the Miami Heat, but he is not too far removed from having a stellar run with the LA Clippers in their run then to the Western Conference Finals.

In this now-past season, Jackson had a lesser role with the Nuggets to close out the regular season after he signed there, however, he was still solid in his minutes and with LA, still had 10.9 points and 3.5 assists per outing in 52 games. Following him being traded by the Clippers to the Charlotte Hornets, and then being waived, he signed with Denver, and averaged 7.9 points and 3.1 assists in 16 regular season appearances post-deadline.

To reiterate, Jackson did not play realistically in high-leverage minutes with Denver in the playoffs with Jamal Murray’s dominance in mind, along with others involved lineup-wise. Despite that, he’s still a player that is more than capable of being a table-setter for stretches in his minutes, and he can still provide supplemental scoring as a shot creation presence, as a ball-swing shooter and he is a viable pick-and-roll option.

Jackson is not a Darius Garland-level shooter, no. Still, he’s connected on 36.3 percent of his 5.3 regular season deep attempts per game since 2018-19 in varying roles, even in a number of different scenarios. And it’s not as if those were simply standstill three attempts from Jackson in that time.

Overall, though, given some relative uncertainty with Rubio, it would be logical for the Cavaliers to potentially look to add another veteran lead guard, and one who is more offensive-minded in the scoring sense. Jackson is still a player who can get hot in bench minutes, handle the rock to create plays for others and he typically makes good pick-and-roll reads.

Now, if Cleveland were to add the 6-foot-2 Jackson, who is set to be in his age-33 season in 2023-24, one wouldn’t anticipate he’d play much with Garland.

Jackson could still be a solid depth playmaker to have for non-Garland minutes, and in the playoffs, Jackson might be a better option for Cleveland’s bench in some matchups than Rubio. Jackson has ample postseason experience, too, with 75 playoff games under his belt.

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Realistically, Jackson would seem to be a reasonable player for the Cavs to pursue in free agency. If there’s a possibility for a legit role with an emerging contender in Cleveland, perhaps he’d consider signing via the vet’s minimum or perhaps Cleveland’s $4.4 million Bi-Annual Exception.