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Teams Who Have Expressed Interest in Fultz and How One, the Pistons, Would Prefer to Make It Happen

Teams that have indicated interest in acquiring Markelle Fultz that Liberty Ballers has been able to confirm so far includes Detroit, Orlando, Cleveland, Miami, and Phoenix, with the Suns having supposedly “cooled” off recently. Phoenix, Miami and Orlando probably have the most that Philadelphia would want back. Cleveland could be doable as part of a larger (possibly 3-team) deal.

It was recently reported that the Sixers ownership is not in unison on the issue of trading Fultz and that it’s an ongoing discussion, likely dependent on offers from other teams.

To that end, Liberty Ballers’ sources had indicated last week that the Detroit Pistons recently expressed interest in acquiring Markelle Fultz. We’ve recently received more on that and heard Detroit would prefer to find a new home for the 8th year guard out of Boston College, Reggie Jackson, which would open up a role for a guard in their rotation.

The Sixers were not interested in Jackson, so part of the discussion involved a plan to check back in after a couple of weeks when Fultz’s rehab may offer a more clear time-table for his return to basketball activities, and the Pistons could see what, if any, third-team options the market held for Jackson.

Pickings may be slim in terms of finding buyers for Jackson. Jackson has been disappointing since signing his major five-year $80m extension in 2015. The veteran has battled injuries, and with a year and a half remaining on his contract (~$17m this year and ~$18m for 2019-2020) he’ll be hard to move.

Detroit likely understands there will be more interest this summer when he enters the last year of his deal, therefore the Pistons may not be motivated to part with significant assets to accomplish this.

But would a desperate team like the Houston Rockets feel that Jackson is more likely to crack their rotation than someone who currently can’t, like former Piston, Brandon Knight?

Would one of the NBA’s bottom offenses feel Jackson is worth betting on? If so the Grizzlies, Jazz, Magic, and Heat have all had issues scoring and want to make the playoffs. These are teams the Pistons may want to at least call, even if the odds are slim. The Pelicans might feel desperate to improve their chances of making the playoffs and keeping Anthony Davis in New Orleans. Maybe a good but not great team like Portland feels it needs depth in the back court since their lead guards wore down last year, tasked with such a heavy burden to score.

Of course, if the Pistons were willing to attach assets to part with Jackson, that would open up talks with cap-rich rebuilding situations like Atlanta, Cleveland, and Sacramento among others. That route is probably more likely if Detroit were really motivated, or felt what they received in return was worth the sacrifice.

Because Jackson may not be a first or even second option for some teams, this could be the type of deal that is penciled in and revisited as the deadline approaches when preferred options begin to fall through. Sources who spoke with Liberty Ballers on condition of anonymity did not believe that finding a third team for Jackson was a deal-breaker in terms of their interest in Fultz, but that a possible deal for Fultz could come down to the wire.

The Pistons have indicated a willingness to be patient with Fultz if the 3 point shot was not there right away because of his upside, athleticism and reported work ethic. With Jackson’s dip in productivity, which coincided with the Pistons’ six game December losing streak, they don’t believe Jackson’s skill-set is irreplaceable. Their backcourt struggles are as real as almost any team’s in the league with Jackson’s inefficient play and Ish Smith having recently torn an adductor muscle.

Here was a proposed trade by The Ringer this week not involving Jackson:

If Jackson were to be moved, some version of this above would become more likely, although perhaps even less generous for Philly.

January 15th is the first key date to watch, as certain players will become available to be traded. Then the NBA trade deadline is February 7th.

If the Sixers did want to pursue a max-level free agent in addition to keeping Butler this summer, Fultz would only be a minor impediment to that since his ~$9.7m could likely still be moved or stretched.

Atop the Sixers priorities now should include finding a guard who can shoot and defend the point-of-attack, without sacrificing their ability to be a player in free-agency this summer; a minimal version of what they always hoped Fultz would be available to provide. On the higher end of that archetype includes Miami’s Josh Richardson. With reports today that the Heat’s Goran Dragić will miss extended time with a knee injury, it will be intriguing to see which direction Pat Riley wants to go.

The Sixers own Miami’s 2021 unprotected pick which would be more valuable to Miami than any other team since Miami controls its own destiny and could decide to rebuild. Few teams can rival Pat Riley’s ability to turn player’s careers around.

Sources indicate there have been very few if any talks between Fultz and the Sixers’ brass since his departure for California and that he continues to want a change of scenery.

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