Following a Monday morning appointment with surgeon Dr. Martin O’Malley to assess his progress, Meeks learned that the foot hasn’t healed properly.
“We’re backing off until March 1; for practical matters, it’s really hard to see him being able to get back and make much of a contribution this year,” Van Gundy said. “The first day he would be able to start ramping it up would be early March. He’d need a couple weeks to ramp it up and then you’re down to the last month of the season by the time he’s ready to go.
The Pistons badly want to make the playoffs after six years away. At 26-23 and seventh in the Eastern Conference, they’re in decent shape.
But they could use a spot-up outside specialist – like Meeks.
Starting shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ranks second in the NBA at 37.4 minutes per game. His stamina is impressive, but that’s asking a lot. Backup Stanley Johnson is better suited as a forward, a position he also plays. Rookie Darrun Hilliard doesn’t look ready for a rotation role, though he has gotten occasional minutes in reserve.
The Pistons probably won’t relinquish high-end future assets, like a first-round pick, but this news could make them more aggressive at the trade deadline. If they can’t count on Meeks, they could seek another shooting guard.
If Detroit doesn’t acquire one, Meeks – even if the odds appear against it now – could still get a chance to crack the rotation late in the season. There’s just a need for someone like him.