Reggie Jackson

Central Notes: Pistons, Maker, Munford

Only two of the Pistons‘ opening day starters are set in stone, the other three have yet to be determined, Keith Langlois of the team’s official website writes. With Avery Bradley at the two and Andre Drummond in the middle, head coach Stan Van Gundy is hard-pressed to figure out who will join them at tip-off.

Everything’s a consideration,” Van Gundy said, before implying that Tobias Harris would probably start for the Pistons but, then, again might not. “I thought he was good off the bench last year. I’m really not locked in to anything.”

As Langlois explains, what Van Gundy decides to do with Harris will impact the other decisions he’ll have to make with the Pistons’ lineup. If the 25-year-old forward plays the three, they’ll look to somebody like Jon Leueur to fill in at the four. If they pencil Harris in at the four, they could turn to someone like Stanley Johnson to man the three.

Another decision that the Pistons will need to come to terms on ahead of opening day is who to start at the point. On one hand the idea of a healthy Reggie Jackson working in tandem with Drummond is tantalizing but there’s no guarantee it plays out that way in the first game of the season.

Langlois writes that Ish Smith could get serious consideration to start for the Pistons. “We found out last year just about anybody’s going to play pretty well with Ish,” Van Gundy said.

There’s more from the Central Division:

Pistons Notes: Drummond, Ellenson, Johnson, Jackson

Many teams remain interested in trading for Pistons center Andre Drummond, according to Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press. Ellis talked to several talent evaluators around the league, who say that at age 24, Drummond still has the potential to become a successful big man despite questions about his energy and defense. Teams don’t seem reluctant to take on Drummond’s contract, which will pay him more than $105MM over the next four seasons.

The people Ellis spoke with don’t believe the Pistons are currently shopping Drummond, athough they were over the offseason and before February’s trade deadline. However, he cites two potentially interested parties in Knicks GM Scott Perry, who was an assistant GM in Detroit when Drummond was drafted, and Clippers executive VP Lawrence Frank, who coached the Pistons when Drummond was a rookie.

There’s more this morning out of Detroit:

  • Henry Ellenson‘s impressive preseason could mean more minutes for the second-year big man, Ellis adds in the same piece. Coach Stan Van Gundy said Ellenson is “playing at a high level” after he scored 16 points in 17 minutes Friday. He is competing with Tobias Harris, Jon Leuer and Anthony Tolliver for playing time at power forward.
  • The competition at power forward will keep Stanley Johnson at small forward, which may not be his best position, Ellis writes in a separate story. Many observers believe Johnson would excel as a stretch four, but Van Gundy expects nearly all of Johnson’s minutes this season to come at small forward. “We just don’t really have a need for another [power forward],” Van Gundy said. “There may be some defensive things late in the game where teams go small and we could go small with him, but we’ve got enough stuff we could run without having him to spend a lot of time there. I’m not going to confuse him and have him having to work and know all the sets at [power forward].”
  • Point guard Reggie Jackson is ready to take on a larger leadership role this season, Ellis writes in a another story. Now one of the oldest players on the team at 27, Jackson wants to erase the nightmare of last year when knee problems forced him to miss the start of the season and the team wasn’t able to incorporate him smoothly once he returned. Part of the problem was physical, as assistant coach Tim Hardaway says Jackson never fully recovered. “He’s the catalyst,” Hardaway said. “He wants to come out here and be the man. He can be the man, but first he has to be healthy. Once he’s 100% and shape, everybody’s going to see a different Reggie because last year he was hurt all the time.”

Central Notes: LaVine, Jackson, Calderon

The Bulls have had a busy week signing Nikola Mirotic and buying out Dwyane Wade. Now, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes, the team will turn its attention to Zach LaVine, their recently acquired guard currently eligible for a contract extension.

They [the Bulls and his representation] have had some conversations,” LaVine said. “It doesn’t really matter to me. I’m going to let all that take care of itself. I know I’m a big part of this team and I’m excited to be in negotiations with them. I want to be here for a long period of time. If it’s now or later, I know it’s going to be done either way.

The guard averaged 18.9 points per game for the Timberwolves last season before tearing his ACL last February. He, along with Kris Dunn and the No. 7 pick ended up with the Bulls in the Jimmy Butler deal.

Just yesterday we wrote about how the Bulls’ front office was clear about their intentions to build around a core that featured the 22-year-old dunk contest champion. Whether that means committing to him on the heels of a significant injury before he even suits up for a game, however, is a whole other question.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • After four months resting and recovering from knee tendinitis, Reggie Jackson has officially returned to contact practice. The Pistons guard was able to get through his most recent test pain-free, Rod Beard of the Detroit News writes,  but will need to work his way back into game shape. “I’m happy to be feeling good each and every day. The best thing is to wake up and be pain-free; even if [I’m] sore, it’s really body soreness and nothing with the knee. My legs may be a little fatigued because I’m getting back to the swing of things,” Jackson said.
  • Consider Jose Calderon‘s role with the Cavaliers in danger, Joe Vardon of writes. The Cavs have 16 players on guaranteed deals and the 36-year-old veteran doesn’t have the upside that somebody like Cedi Osman has.
  • The Pacers were among the 28 teams that supported draft lottery reform, Jim Ayello of the Indianapolis Star writes. Indiana’s support for the new system is particularly interesting considering they’re a small market team perceived to face inherent challenges recruiting talent via free agency.

Central Notes: Parker, Jackson, Stephenson

Bucks GM Jon Horst said the team has had positive discussions with Jabari Parker‘s camp about a contract extension, Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets. The franchise places a high value on Parker, though Velazquez relays that former No. 2 overall pick’s injuries will play a role in the contract negotiations.

If Milwaukee can’t sign Parker to an extension by the deadline, the forward will become a restricted free agent at year’s end and the team can match any offer sheet he signs. Horst signals that the front office is negotiating with this in mind, as Velazquez relays in a full-length piece.

“Hopefully, the goal is to come to an extension agreement,” Horst said. “If we don’t, we want to be in a place where we can have the same type of productive conversations again as a restricted free agent with a player who we value significantly in our franchise.”

Here’s more from the Central Division:

  • While Parker “definitely” wants to be in Milwaukee, he admits that it’s out of his hands, Velazquez passes along in the same piece. “I have no clue [what’s going on] and that’s why I pay [my agent],” Parker said of his contract negotiations with the Bucks. “I let them do all the madness.”
  • Reggie Jackson, who has dealt with knee troubles since coming to the Pistons, will begin the season on a minutes limit, Rod Beard of the Detroit News relays via Twitter. “He will be on a minutes limit,” coach/executive Stan Van Gundy said. “It will be progressive as the season goes on.”
  • Despite the lack of firepower on the offensive, it appears the Pacers plan on unleashing Lance Stephenson as their sixth man, Jim Ayello of the Indianapolis Star writes.“I love him in that position,” said Pacers General Manager Kevin Pritchard. “It reminds me of [Manu] Ginobili a long time ago. You can’t always get everybody the opportunity to score and make plays in the first five minutes.”

Reggie Jackson: Knee Feels Good Heading Into Camp

A year ago, Pistons guard Reggie Jackson was dealing with a sore left knee that caused him to miss the first 21 games of the season, but he tells Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press he believes that problem is in the past.

“With my knee, I’m feeling good,” Jackson said. “With the health of it, I’m feeling great. I just got to do the best I can to take care of it. The team is doing a great job of monitoring it. I’ve had no setbacks. I’m on pace, which is to be ready by training camp.”

Jackson’s early-season absence, followed by inconsistent play once he returned, was a major reason for the Pistons’ 37-45 record a year after making the playoffs. Jackson managed just 52 games, and his scoring, rebounding, assists and shooting numbers were all down significantly from 2015/16.

Diagnosed with chronic tendinitis, Jackson spent the offseason trying to manage the condition. He recently finished a 16-week protocol designed to cut down the strain of summer workouts. Under the supervision of team physical therapist Mark Cranston, Jackson’s basketball-related activities were limited to light shooting and jumping off one leg.

Jackson, who underwent platelet-rich plasma injections last fall, believes he made a mistake by trying to get back on the court as quickly as possible.

“It came about unexpectedly,” Jackson said. “Got injured and the whole key was to try to rush back in six weeks. We went into three weeks of the season, but the goal each day was to try to get back as soon as possible vs. knowing you have a nice amount of time to really take care of the knee and build everything up.”

The Pistons plan to be cautious with Jackson when training camp opens Tuesday. Coach Stan Van Gundy won’t have him practice twice when the team has two-a-days.

Jackson believes the knee is ready, but he can’t be certain until he can test it under game conditions.

“We won’t know until you are in competition and you get to see it,” Jackson said. “If I can get the burst by my man, if I can make the play like I did two years ago. That will be the only true test of knowing it. It feels healthy, but it’s really going to be playing to figure out what it truly is.”

Central Notes: Jackson, Wade, Bulls

One of the biggest factors that will influence the fate of the Pistons is just how well Reggie Jackson manages to bounce back after a disappointing 2016/17 campaign. The 27-year-old guard, Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press says, appears right on schedule following lingering knee issues from last season.

The technical term for Jackson’s knee issue is tendinosis, which Ellis describes as chronic tendinitis. As such, knee woes aren’t exactly new for the Pistons guard and he’s supposedly been impacted by them since he was drafted back in 2011. It was recovery from the platelet-rich plasma injection that he received last offseason, however, that set his 2016/17 campaign askew from the start.

A healthy Jackson is an incredibly potent weapon for the Pistons and Lang Green of Basketball Insiders reminds us that the playmaker averaged a staggering 17.6 points and 9.2 assists per game in his first half year with the club. Do the Pistons still hold Jackson in the same regard following last year’s disappointing results though? And how long will his leash be in 2017/18?

A healthy Jackson tends to inspire Andre Drummond and an enthusiastic Drummond can be a game-changer for a Pistons team that seemed to lack motivation last year. If Jackson can stay healthy and produce as he did when he earned his lofty contract extension back in the summer of 2015, we could very well see Detroit pick up where they left off at the end of 2015/16.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Bulls squandered Jimmy Butler and it has left the franchise a wreck, Dan Feldman of NBC Sports says in his review of the club’s offseason.
  • Time to bring out your tinfoil banana boat again — LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are working out together, Alex Tekip of ESPN writes. If the Bulls buy Wade out, he could join his former teammate on the Cavaliers.
  • The Pistons don’t have any mega-stars in an era that virtually requires them, Rod Beard of the Detroit News writes, suggesting their title outlook is dim. The league, he says, just isn’t what it used to be back in 2004, when Detroit last won a ring with no superstars.

Central Notes: Cavaliers, Jackson, LaVine

Following last week’s completed blockbuster trade, the Cavaliers‘ roster — on paper at least — appears to be set for training camp. The only pressing issue is the health of point guard Isaiah Thomas, who is currently dealing with a hip injury that will likely force him to miss the start of the season. If Cleveland’s current roster struggles and Thomas misses significant time, the team could shop the Nets’ 2018 first round pick (acquired in last week’s trade) in search for a starting point guard, Buddy Grizzard of Basketball Insiders writes.

We examined the importance of the Cavaliers’ signing of Derrick Rose in a Community Shootaround last week. The former Most Valuable Player is a diminished player but showed he can still score with authority if healthy. However, Rose is under contract for the veteran’s minimum and not a long term piece. One player Cleveland could target with their draft pick is Suns’ point guard Eric Bledsoe.

“If Rose is not seen as the answer and too many questions surround Thomas,” Grizzard writes. “Bledsoe could be the solution. He’ll have one season remaining on his contract after this season, which could at least entice James to stay on for another two-year contract with a second-year player option.”

Check out other news tidbits from around the Central Division:

  • Reggie Jackson has not returned to basketball activities yet but Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy hopes he will be ready soon, per Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter links).
  • Two-time dunk contest winner and new Bulls guard Zach LaVine is a “wild card” on the sneaker market, ESPN’s Nick DePaula writes. LaVine’s rookie deal with Nike expires at the end of September and DePaula notes that moving from the third option in Minnesota to main option in Chicago is a chance for LaVine to cash in on his new deal.
  • The Pelicans will send $2.5MM to the Bulls as part of the deal that sent Quincy Pondexter to the Windy City last week, per K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link).

Community Shootaround: Pistons Stars

After a stellar 2015/16 campaign in which they qualified for the playoffs and showcased their potential in a first-round series with the Cavaliers, the Pistons took a significant leap backwards in 2016/17.

Although the team struggled across the board last year, much of the team’s general disappointment can be traced either directly or indirectly to the injury that sidelined point guard Reggie Jackson for over a month to start the season.

When Jackson finally did return to the court after undergoing platelet-rich plasma injections to treat a knee issue, the Pistons were a far cry from the unit that fired on all cylinders the year prior.

As Jackson struggled to regain form, Detroit big man Andre Drummond struggled as well, initially unable to establish the same connection with his point guard that helped him to a career season in 2015/16.

While backup point guard Ish Smith performed admirably when called to fill in for Jackson, much of Detroit’s struggles in 2016/17 can be attributed to the fact that the dynamic inside-outside combination the club relied on previously was missing.

The resulting campaign can be summed up rather simply: the Pistons dropped from 44 wins to 37 and missed the playoffs.

Meanwhile Drummond’s line of 16.2 points and 14.8 boards per game in 2015/16 fell to 13.6 and 13.8 last season, while Jackson’s own line plummeted from 18.8 points and 6.2 assists per game down to 14.5 and 5.2.

Not surprisingly, the pair have found themselves front and center in trade rumors since partway through season. While Stan Van Gundy didn’t end up pulling the trigger on any deals, it’s been written that the barrage of speculation impacted Drummond.

The question we have for readers in this Community Shootaround is whether Drummond and Jackson should be moved as soon as the franchise can get a reasonable return or whether the Pistons should hold on to the tandem because their value couldn’t possibly dip lower.

Put another way, will 2017/18 mark a bounce back season for two former up-and-coming young stars? Should they be given the benefit of the doubt? Weigh in below.

Central Notes: Jackson, Turner, Pacers, Bucks

The Pistons have postseason aspirations in 2017/18 and those plans will significantly hinge on the performance of Reggie JacksonJackson is coming off an injury-riddled 2016/17 season in which he was limited to 52 games and averaged just 14.5 PPG and 5.2 APG, both totals being his lowest in a single season since his 2013/14 season with the Thunder.

With Jackson a liability last year, head coach Stan Van Gundy trotted out Ish Smith in favor of Jackson. Entering this season, Smith remains the backup to Jackson at point guard; despite their standings, Smith tells Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press that Jackson has been working hard this summer and is showing glimpses of the player who averaged just under 19 PPG two seasons earlier.

“He’s out there in California enjoying himself, but he’s getting better,” Smith said. “He’s getting back to the Reggie Jackson everybody knows and loves.

Jackson’s coach echoed Smith’s sentiments, boasting about his point guard having a renewed confidence.

“He’s doing well and feeling good, and I think feeling confident too,” Van Gundy said. “Things are going in the right way so I’m going to go out there sometime in the next couple weeks and spend some time with him.”

Read additional stories around the NBA’s Central Division:

Pistons Notes: Marjanovic, Backcourt, Kennard

Long one of the NBA’s most intriguing reserve big men, Boban Marjanovic will be utilized differently this season than he was during his first under Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy. Keith Langlois of the team’s official website spoke with the Van Gundy about his 7’4″ backup.

The questions are going to be how [Marjanovic’s stellar play at the end of 2016/17] holds up over time and how many minutes he can take on a nightly basis,” Van Gundy said. “Those we don’t know, but we do know that he’s got unbelievable size and skill and that’s a pretty good combination.”

With Aron Baynes now a member of the Celtics, Marjanovic figures be the primary backup to Andre Drummond, splitting duties perhaps with Jon Leuer when more mobility is required.

There’s more out of Detroit:

  • Point guard Reggie Jackson made a point of travelling to meet Avery Bradley as soon as possible, Ansar Khan of MLive writes. Jackson said he wants the new-look backcourt to hold each other accountable this season.
  • Rookie Luke Kennard will need to outplay Langston Galloway and Reggie Bullock for a prominent place in the Pistons’ rotation but in his defense he has already assuaged some concerns about his mobility that Stan Van Gundy had prior to the summer league, Keith Langlois of writes in a mailbag.
  • Big man Andre Drummond has shouldered the blame for Detroit’s lousy 2016/17 campaign, Michael Lee of The Vertical writes. “It starts with me,” Drummond said. “I didn’t come out playing the way I was supposed to. I needed to take it upon myself to be a leader this summer, to really take care of myself, take care of my body to make sure my team got better.
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