You guys have been quiet in free agency, primarily because your roster is so stable. Is that good to know exactly how your team will be built?
Jackson: “It’s always good to know who you’re coming back to play with that, that you’ve been through some battles already with each other. That you can lean on each other, trust each other. So I like what they’re doing. Who you’re going to come in and play with next year. I think everybody, wherever they are now, just working hard and getting ready.”
How do you view what appears to be a hybrid role for you next season, being Russell Westbrook’s backup but also the first player off the bench?
Jackson: “I don’t know what my role is. I try not to think about it too much. Whatever I’m thrown into next year, I’ll be ready for it. It’s definitely part of the reason I’ve been happy to get away, get out to LA and train as hard as I’ve been training so far. I’ve just been working as hard as possible. Ready for whatever role Scotty (Brooks) flings me into next year.”
What have you been working on?
Jackson: “Everything. Tightening up ballhandling. I get back here to watch some film of some guys. I’ve got a point guard guy, looking forward to working with him this year.”
Who is your point guard mentor?
Jackson: “Steve Haley of Boston. We’ve always talked. Been helping me with my game. So look forward to getting back, working out with him. Worked out with some other guys already. Great to put it all together. I’m ready for the progress to happen and just get back on the court.”
You figure to play with Westbrook much more than in the past. How will that go?
Jackson: “It’s easy to play. Whoever gets the ball, just bring it up, call a set. Whoever gets the rebound. Especially playing with Russ, you ain’t worried about speed. He can get upcourt. He can attack with the ball or without it. Always fun playing with him. I look forward to it.”
You played nine playoff games without Westbrook, after his injury. What did you learn?
Jackson: “Two completely different seasons. Try to make it through the (regular) season healthy. Try to win as many games as possible. But once you get to the playoffs, every game matters. Everybody knows that. To the extent of being on the court, it’s a different beast. Especially being a point guard, gotta command everybody. Can’t get too high. Can’t get too low. Those are things I’ve learned, got to take with me. Just better at, just be a better leader. The experience I went through, and coming up short, it was really just making me more hungry. I enjoyed the experience. Wish could have did more. Hopefully, God willing, we’re all healthy and just hit the ground running when that time comes.”
Have you been following the free agency moves?
Jackson: “I’ve seen the major moves. Maybe not every move. But I kind of like to know what the landscape’s going to be for the league. I pay attention to it. It’s getting a little hectic. Coaches getting traded. It’s funny. It’ll be fun. Should just make it more interesting again. We shall see what these teams are going to look like and how they jell. Most importantly, just waiting for Oklahoma City to get back.”
You were drafted 24th overall in 2011. Have you helped prove that teams can find ballplayers outside the lottery?
Jackson: “There‘s a lot of gems. Manu Ginobili, possibly a Hall of Famer. So you can find a player anywhere. Isaiah Thomas, Mr. Irrelevant, with the last pick of my draft. It’s about where you’re drafted, the situation. How hungry the kid that’s coming is for it. Just all about waiting your turn. Whenever you get your opportunity, make the most of it. Just waiting to get around these guys (Thunder draft picks). See what they bring to the table, see how hungry they are for it. Great to interact with ‘em.”
You’ve now been in OKC two full years. Are you pretty settled in the city and with the organization?
Jackson: “Just staying in the same place last two years, feel comfortable where I am. Just feel comfortable with the people, with the organization, have a good understanding how things go and what kind of individual it takes to make it here. Our GM and the whole ownership does a good job drafting and bringing in the right guys. Hopefully these guys bring another dynamic to our team that ultimately helps us get to the goal that we want.”