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Reggie Jackson returning to Clippers on two-year deal

Clippers guard Reggie Jackson, left, celebrates with teammates Terance Mann, center, and Daniel Oturu.
Clippers guard Reggie Jackson, left, celebrates with teammates Terance Mann, center, and Daniel Oturu during Game 5 of the Western Conference finals against Phoenix.
(Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

After what he called the “best year, the most challenging year, the most fun year” of his 10-year career ended in June, Clippers guard Reggie Jackson thanked his teammates and coaches while shedding a tear.

“I wonder if I would still be playing without this team,” said Jackson, who enjoyed a breakout postseason after he considered stepping away from basketball only months before.

The Clippers and Jackson no longer have to wonder if the unrestricted free agent will be back in their lineup next season after Jackson agreed to a two-year, $22-million deal that reunites the fan-favorite guard with the team, and close friend Paul George, that nurtured his career rebound.

The deal is fully guaranteed, according to two people with knowledge of the terms but unauthorized to speak publicly.

During a summer with few superstars hitting unrestricted free agency, the market for Jackson’s backcourt services was projected as one of the most fascinating, and became a test of whether teams viewed his production last season as replicable or a remarkable one-off. Would they bet on his 43% three-point shooting to continue? Or, at 31 years old, would suitors consider it an outlier, given his career 34.9% average from deep?

Jackson joined the Clippers in 2020 after having his contract bought out in Detroit, where a string of injuries hampered his initial effectiveness with the Pistons. Despite being reunited with George, Jackson’s first months with the Clippers hardly predicted a bright future. He called the communication with former coach Doc Rivers about his role sparse and endured rocky performances during the league’s 2020 restart in Florida. He spent two months following that season evaluating whether he still had the passion to return.

A few years ago Jason Preston was a longshot to make the NBA. Soon he’ll be with Clippers teammates showing their potential in summer league games.

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When he did, with the Clippers on a one-year deal, it was with playing time anything but guaranteed. At times last season, his role shifted almost at the final moment before he took the court, such as one road game in Boston where he was informed moments before tipoff that he was starting because of a late scratch.

After the Clippers trailed by two games to open their best-of-seven, first-round series against Dallas in May, coach Tyronn Lue added Jackson to the starting backcourt for scoring pop. Jackson delivered 16 points and four assists in the team’s much-needed Game 3 road victory and rarely cooled off throughout the rest of the Clippers’ run to the Western Conference finals by averaging 17.8 points on 40.8% three-point shooting, with 3.4 assists against 1.5 turnovers. Jackson started the final 17 games of the postseason; against Phoenix in the conference finals, with leading scorer Kawhi Leonard injured, Jackson increased his output to 20.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists.

“This city is special to me,” Jackson said after the season-ending loss June 30. “I can’t predict the future, I have no idea what happens, but this city, this organization, this fan base is special. It holds a special place in my heart forever. I’ll forever be a Clipper. I’m thankful. I’m thankful for this opportunity. I’m thankful everybody who has been part of the journey who supported and made this year special.”


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