Point guard Brandon Jennings cannot go full speed yet and remains weeks away from returning, coach Stan Van Gundy told the gathered media this week, including Hoops Rumors. Jennings, who is still recovering from a torn Achilles tendon suffered in January, has been participating in practices but is still targeted to return sometime next month. “He doesn’t have his quickness back,” Van Gundy said. “He’s a ways away but he’s getting there. He can do pretty much everything. It’s just getting back into being able to play at that tempo. There’s definitely been progress but he’s still a ways away.” When he returns, Jennings will likely move ahead of Steve Blake and Spencer Dinwiddie on the second unit.
In other news around the team:
- Van Gundy believes opponents should be able to use the Hack-A-Dre strategy at any point in the game or not at all, he declared during the same press conference. Opponents will sometimes resort to intentionally fouling center Andre Drummond, a career 40% free throw shooter, off the ball. The strategy is only useful until two minutes remaining in a quarter, when off-the-ball infractions result in a free throw plus possession. “I don’t like rules that apply to just the last two minutes of a game,” Van Gundy said. “To me, let’s play with the same rules for 48 minutes. If we can grab guys in the first 46 minutes, let us grab guys in the last two or don’t do it at all. And I don’t like the replay rule in the last two minutes. It’s like the other calls don’t matter. A call at 2:05 affects a game as much as 1:55 but we’re not going review that one.”
- Van Gundy has gone to a nine-man rotation, expanding the role of first-rounder Stanley Johnson. With backup shooting guard Jodie Meeks sidelined since the first week of the season with a broken right foot, Reggie Bullock got the first crack at the role. But Bullock made just one basket in 10 games and Van Gundy is reluctant to give rookie second-rounder Darrun Hilliard a rotation spot. Thus, Johnson is now the primary backup at both small forward and shooting guard. Neither Bullock nor Hilliard played against the Thunder on Friday night.
- The Pistons made the quickest improvement of the three teams involved in the blockbuster that netted point guard Reggie Jackson, David Mayo of MLive.com opines. The Thunder and Jazz also achieved their objectives in the trade deadline deal but the Pistons got the point guard they coveted without giving up a major piece, Mayo continues. They traded two players who are now reserves for the Thunder, point guard D.J. Augustin and small forward Kyle Singler, and two future second-round picks. Jackson signed a five-year, $80MM contract this summer as a restricted free agent.