Rumors of Reggie Jackson‘s demise have proven to be correct.
The Pistons point guard is expected to miss the start of the regular season with knee problems.
Rod Beard of The Detroit News:
A 6-to-8-week absence would cause Jackson to miss 12 to 20 games. That’s a big chunk of the season for a team that could finish anywhere between getting home-court advantage in the first round and missing the playoffs entirely.
Ish Smith is an adequate, though uninspiring, fill-in. With so few rotation-level wings capable of creating, Smith faces a large offensive burden (one Jackson shouldered last year).
With Smith starting, backup point guard becomes an issue. Detroit probably doesn’t want to depend on Ray McCallum or Lorenzo Brown for regular minutes, and the free-agent market has dried up. Perhaps, the Pistons consider a minor trade by floating Aron Baynes, Reggie Bullock and/or Darrun Hilliard.
Detroit’s goal for now should just be staying afloat until Jackson returns – and hoping that’s as soon as possible.
The Pistons have trended upward since hiring Stan Van Gundy, and they hoped to ride the Reggie Jackson–Andre Drummond combination to ascend further.
But Jackson – who had been limited in practice due to longstanding knee issues – might not be available for a while.
Marc Stein of ESPN:
Jackson has been essential to Detroit’s offense, which features minimal playmaking from the wings. If Jackson can’t go, Ish Smith steps into that overly burdened role.
After signing Smith this summer to back up Jackson, Van Gundy touted Smith’s ability to handle starter’s minutes with the 76ers. But Smith didn’t perform as well in Philadelphia as the narrative suggests, and he’s a clear downgrade from Jackson.
More troubling for the Pistons is what happens when Smith rests. As large as the drop is from Jackson to Smith, it’s even larger from Smith to Lorenzo Brown or Ray McCallum – who are competing for the 15th regular-season roster spot and third-point-guard duties. Most likely, Detroit would try to find an upgrade over those two, not over Smith.
The free-agent market for point guards has dried up unless Mario Chalmers is healthy. A small trade – maybe involving Reggie Bullock, Darrun Hilliard or Aron Baynes – could work.
The biggest hope must be Jackson returning as quickly as possible. The 26-year-old has been relatively healthy, playing 80, 77 and 79 games the last three years.
But if he’s sidelined for a lengthy period, that could cost the Pistons home-court advantage in the first round or even a playoff berth entirely. There’s little margin for error in the 4-10 range of the Eastern Conference.
The Detroit Pistons have 14 guaranteed contracts set going into training camp at the end of the month. They could carry one more player into the season, but they may not (teams like having that room to make moves as needed). The Pistons are also pretty loaded at the center and point guard spots heading into camp.
But Trey Freeman and Nikola Jovanovic are going to get their chances, they have both signed training camp deals with the Pistons. Jovanovic, who was an undrafted big out of USC, confirmed his deal himself on Twitter.
Both of these guys are longshots to make the team.
At the five, the Pistons already have Andre Drummond, Aron Baynes, and Boban Marjanovic. That’s plenty of traditional bigs. At the four they have plenty of depth as well (Tobias Harris, Jon Leuer, and Henry Ellenson).
At the point, Reggie Jackson will get the bulk of minutes, with Ish Smith behind him. If the Pistons keep a third point guard on the roster (no guarantee), the smart money is on Ray McCallum. (As an aside, the Jackson trade rumors with the Sixers floating around the Web are preposterous and not happening. As in not being discussed.)
The Pistons will start Reggie Jackson at point guard, and they signed Ish Smith to provide better backup at the position.
The competition for the third point guard spot is heating up.
With Lorenzo Brown and Ray McCallum already signed to unguaranteed deals, Detroit is adding undrafted Old Dominion guard Trey Freeman.
Michael Scotto of Sheridan Hoops:
The Pistons have just 14 players – one shy of the regular-season roster limit – with guaranteed salaries. The final spot will very likely go to a point guard.
Brown and McCallum should be favored in the competition, because they’re more NBA-ready. A president/coach, Stan Van Gundy is more prone to covet the player who can step in immediately.
Freeman’s partial guarantee is likely designed to entice him to play in the D-League for a low base salary. The Pistons can waive him in the preseason and then assign his D-League rights to their affiliate, though he’d become an NBA free agent.
Freeman is working to become a better distributor after playing as a go-to scorer in college. A solid mid-range shooter, he must extend his range beyond the arc. It’d also help if he got to the rim more, and it seems he has the bounce to do that.
For an undrafted player, he has nice tools. They’ll probably just need to be refined in the D-League.
But even if that’s the intention, Freeman at least gives himself a chance first of upsetting Brown and McCallum in the race for third point guard.