2:45pm: The assignment has officially taken place, the Pistons announced via press release.
“This is a great example of the many benefits our D-League team offers, supporting [owner] Tom Gores’ vision to push for a hybrid affiliation with the Grand Rapids Drive,” Pistons GM Jeff Bower said. “It gives Brandon an opportunity to go play in a game, work on his conditioning and compete in a similar system that’s being run by [Pistons D-League coach] Otis Smith and his staff.”
12:41pm: The Pistons will assign Brandon Jennings to the D-League, Pistons coach/executive Stan Van Gundy confirmed today to reporters, including Keith Langlois of Pistons.com (Twitter link). The news is no surprise, as Jennings said Wednesday that he was 80% certain he’d play Saturday for the Grand Rapids Drive, Detroit’s D-League team, in their game against the Iowa Energy, the affiliate of the Grizzlies. It’s a rehab stint for Jennings, who hasn’t appeared in a game since suffering a torn left Achilles tendon in January. He plans to make his return to NBA action December 29th in Detroit’s road game at New York, as Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com reported.
The assignment requires approval from both Jennings and the National Basketball Players Association, since Jennings has more than two years of previous NBA experience. It’s not unheard of for players and the union to give the OK for D-League trips, and it happened just this past weekend with Jeremy Evans and the Mavericks. Rajon Rondo is the most prominent player to have been assigned to the D-League since the current rule went into place for the 2013/14 season, but his stint with Boston’s D-League affiliate in 2014 encompassed only one practice, and he didn’t appear in a D-League game. The Knicks received approval from Amar’e Stoudemire and the union to send Stoudemire on a three-day D-League assignment in 2012, but he, too, only practiced with the D-League squad. Jennings, who’s making more than $8.344MM this season, will continue to earn his NBA salary while in the D-League, where most of his temporary teammates are making between $13K and $25,500.
He will return to a much different situation in Detroit than the one he was in when he got hurt. The Pistons traded for Reggie Jackson in February and re-signed him to a five-year, $80MM deal in the offseason, leading to speculation that Detroit will trade Jennings, who’s in the final year of his contract. Dana Gauruder of Hoops Rumors examined his trade candidacy in depth earlier this month. Still, Van Gundy said this week that he’s yet to have a single conversation with another team about dealing him.