NBA

Reggie Jackson on John Wall, Kawhi Leonard, Clippers 2022-23 season

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LAS VEGAS — If the LA Clippers are going to do anything special this season, it’s going to take everyone on the same page and a bit of luck. In the three seasons of the Kawhi Leonard and Paul George era, the Clippers really struggled with the latter. Reggie Jackson wants this to be the year the tide turns in their favor, and he hopes John Wall can help.

The Clippers have amassed one of the most talented rosters in the NBA, and easily the best team the franchise has ever had on paper. With George healthy and Leonard expected for the start of the 2022-23 season, the team has championship aspirations like never before. The biggest addition of the offseason comes in the form of Wall.

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Five-time NBA All-Star John Wall joins the LA Clippers after spending the entire 2021-22 season and playing just 40 games over the past three years. He will join Reggie Jackson as the team’s veteran point guards, and the two will fight for the starting spot in training camp, Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue told ClutchPoints.

Jackson was the Clippers’ starting point guard in the 2021-22 season and was probably their best player. From “Big Government” bailouts to ending a scoring drought to game-winners, Jackson has done it all for Los Angeles treating injuries to Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

So what does Jackson think of John Wall’s arrival?

“Everyone knows what John is capable of,” Reggie Jackson told ClutchPoints in an exclusive interview. “Shoot, if we can just get 85% of what John is, we get a hell of a steal.

John Wall and Reggie Jackson joined some of their Clippers teammates in Las Vegas for group and individual workouts. In addition to working and support the Summer League ClippersWall and Jackson were able to connect off the field.

“Actually, I’ve been here, I’ve been able to see [John Wall] in the last few days, hopefully he can bounce back and be completely healthy,” Jackson added. “We know injuries have derailed his excellence and everything he’s done, so the last few years it’s been difficult for him in that regard.

“It’s just exciting to see him, to chat with him. You can see that his energy has picked up. I think he’s happy to be on a roster again, to go out there and do what he does and what he loves to do, so it feels good to be there.

When news of Wall’s intention to join the Clippers broke, some fans pulled out the receipts. In July 2015, the then-Washington Wizards point guard attended the NBA Summer League, where he was asked about new contracts being signed around the NBA as a result of the new CBA. In his comments, Wall named Reggie Jackson in what appeared to be an affront to the former Detroit Pistons point guard.

“Man, everybody’s talking about me getting $80 million and you’ve got people getting $85 million and $90 million that haven’t been an All-Star or something,” John Wall said during a a Wizards Summer League game in 2015. “I guess they came at the right time. The new ABC came at the right time. This new ABC came into effect and they’re good now. Like, Reggie Jackson gets five , $80 [million]. Like, I’m getting the same amount as Reggie Jackson right now.

Jackson never publicly responded to those comments, and many people thought there might be issues with the two guards now that they’re on the same team. Now Reggie is here to let everyone know that the two are cool and focused on the common goal.

“It’s not really a big deal,” Jackson explained with a shrug. “We are teammates [now]. We were young, that was a comment. He probably used it as a flame to play when you were younger, but he’s been well received by both parties since he got here. We just want to do something special.

Jackson says his offseason has gone well. He took time off to relax and enjoy life after a grueling season in the NBA. He joined Ivica Zubac, Kawhi Leonard, Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Karl-Anthony Towns and Roy Hibbert as a small guest group to attend Paul George’s massive four day wedding in Sorrento, Italy.

The meeting obviously brought back good memories for the players themselves and the Clippers fans. Many remembered the great three to four years the team had since the end of the Lob City era. Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams helped bring tenacity and joy to Clippers fans who had dreamed of it through every playoff disappointment from 2012 to 2017.

This ultimately resulted in the addition of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, but it also ultimately meant moving away from Beverley and Williams. Some fans are still wondering what it might have been like had the team found a way to retain fan-favorite Beverley, or if the team hadn’t traded Williams for three disappointing months of Rajon Rondo.

August will present Jackson and the Clippers with likely their last chance for serious rest. The team will then turn its attention to the 2022-23 NBA season, which is anything but a championship or bust season that is slated to end no earlier than June 2023.

“I think we had some special years,” Reggie Jackson admitted to ClutchPoints. “The last two years have been fun. The front office has done a great job of acclimatizing as much time as possible. I think we have the best coach in the league, as I always say, in Tyronn Lue, so he’s going to find a way to make everything work. I think when things are going well we all have one goal in mind and that is to try to be the last ones standing.

Without Kawhi Leonard and an unfortunately timed COVID case passed to Paul George, the Clippers fell to the New Orleans Pelicans in the play-in tournament. No playoffs. Not even a chance to recover guys.

Leonard worked at the gym to prepare for the season. Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue says he’s not sure the two-time NBA Finals MVP is still playing five-on-five basketball, but on NBA draft night, the president of basketball operations, Lawrence Frank, said that was not the case. The assumption is that Leonard and the team aren’t rushing to get him a five-for-five with the season months away.

By working with Kawhi over the past few weeks, Jackson says he likes what he sees.

“Yeah, gotta see Kawhi [work out]. As for the things he was doing at the end of the season, training again, lifting, joking, just being around him, being in a little camp with him in San Diego, so I just got together . Anytime I can see him shoot a free throw, that’s a good sign for me, so I’m just happy to see guys feeling good, it looks like.

“Always when you move through the group, the camaraderie we have is amazing. I just like being with our guys.

If this Clippers team is able to stay healthy, they will have a good chance of playing well in May and even June. Their front office has assembled a team that is deep in all key positions. The oldest and most injury-prone players on the roster will be rested methodically throughout the season with the ultimate goal of having them available for the playoffs.

The Clippers were on track to compete for the NBA championship in the 2021 playoffs, if not for an unlucky step from Leonard. Reggie Jackson just wants a chance for this team to be healthy and show what they can do.

“We just have to stay healthy. Stay healthy, let time take its course, and we’ll see where we end up. I just want to have a good year where guys stay healthy. As long as we can do that, I can live with the results.

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