Reggie Jackson made his first ever start Friday in place of Russell Westbrook, who got the night off against the Utah Jazz to rest.
But coach Scott Brooks insists that Jackson's current playing time isn't at all indicative of how the battle for the backup point guard spot will play out. In the team's exhibition opener on Thursday against Houston, Jackson played the primary backup role ahead of Eric Maynor, who was expected to resume his duties as the lead backup now that he has fully healed from an ACL injury last year.
“It's just that he's in the rotation first,” Brooks said of Jackson. “Eric's going to get a chance to start. It's not because of rust or (Maynor) needs time to rest or he has an injury. It's just I want to give guys a look and really see how they play with different units. Eric and Reggie have been very good.”
One possible solution to the dilemma is to play both Maynor and Jackson together, sliding Jackson off the ball to shooting guard. It's a strategy that, while intriguing, Jackson said hasn't played out so far in practices.
“They definitely keep preaching to me staying at (point guard),” Jackson said. “It's something I've been doing my whole life, but I'm just happy to have coaches that believe definitely now that that's my permanent position, my primary position.”
The contrasting styles of Maynor and Jackson could give that potential two-point-guard lineup a chance at success. Maynor is a more traditional, pass-first guard, while Jackson is more explosive and better and creating his own shot.
“It seems like a new thing going around in the league,” Jackson said. “I don't think there's too many problems from playing two point guards. Denver, they do a great job with it. Whoever gets it goes and calls the sets. It doesn't bother me. Whatever it takes to get this team a win.”
With shooting guard James Harden sidelined with a groin injury, Brooks said there's a good chance Maynor and Jackson will soon play at the same time.
“They probably will share some time in the same backcourt,” Brooks said. “I think both of them can play off the ball. Both of them obviously can play with the ball and run the offense. With James out the next couple of days — you never know how long he'll be out — Reggie and Eric will definitely have time on the court together.”
FORMER GUARD MIKE WILKS HIRED AS SCOUT
Mike Wilks, who played for the Thunder during the 2009-10 season, has been hired as a pro scout, the team announced Friday.
Wilks appeared in 233 NBA games over seven seasons and most recently played in Poland before announcing his retirement.
The Thunder also announced Amanda Green as basketball operations coordinator/legal & administration.
Additionally, the team promoted Paul Rivers to director of basketball operations, Will Dawkins to director of college player personnel and Brandon Barnett to director of minor league operations/pro scout.
Harden sat out Friday morning's shootaround to continue to rehab his groin. He's listed as day-to-day.
Kendrick Perkins said there is no new timetable for his return from his left wrist injury. The team's starting center still is expected to miss all of the preseason and is hoping to be back for the regular season opener on Nov. 1.
“Each day it's getting better,” Perkins said. “I'm starting to get more involved in activities on the court. I'm just trying not to have any setbacks and just keep my target for the beginning of the season.”
Thabo Sefolosha missed his second straight game with a quad injury. But he is expected to return to the lineup soon.
“He's doing a little more every day,” Brooks said. “I don't know when he will play the first game, but the way things are progressing I think it's pretty soon. Maybe the next game.”
The Thunder returns to Oklahoma City for its preseason home opener on Tuesday against Charlotte. Tipoff is 7 p.m.
By Darnell Mayberry