By: Will Burchfield
After Pistons point guard Reggie Jackson sat out a team scrimmage Tuesday due to tendinitis in his left knee, Detroit is preparing for the possibility that he will be on the shelf when the season begins.
Per ESPN’s Marc Stein, the Pistons are set to explore contingency plans at the point guard position.
As far as free agents go, the market is thin. Two players that might draw the Pistons’ interest are Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole.
Chalmers, 30, averaged 10.3 points and 3.8 assists in 61 games last season with the Miami Heat and Memphis Grizzlies, although he is coming off a torn achilles suffered last March. Cole, 27, averaged 10.6 and 3.7 in 45 games with the New Orleans Pelicans. Per rotoworld.com, he has signed a contract in the Chinese Basketball Association but would be allowed to return to the NBA should the opportunity arise.
Veteran Kirk Hinrich is also available.
For Jackson, knee tendinitis isn’t a new problem. In fact, it’s a condition that’s dogged him since his rookie season in 2011-12.
“That’s something I’ve dealt with since I got into the league,” he said last week at Pistons media day. “If people backtrack, I got an operation in 2011. But it’s just taking care of it, maintaining it.”
It’s possible that the issue was exacerbated by Jackson’s heavy workload in the 2015-16 season. The 26-year-old surpassed 80 games and 2,500 minutes for the first time in his career.
Heading into training camp this year, the Pistons intended to limit Jackson to one practice per day. After he sat out Tuesday’s scrimmage, coach Stan Van Gundy said the team may have to adjust the plan for its starting point guard.
“We’ll just have to see,” Van Gundy told reporters. “We’ve got further evaluation with what’s going to need to happen with him. Yeah, we’ll have to see how long and everything else.”
Jackson is a key member of a Pistons team that’s looking to take another step up the Eastern Conference ladder. He averaged 18.8 points and 6.2 assists per game last season, helping the Pistons reach the playoffs for the first time in seven years.
If he does indeed miss time, Detroit’s most immediate option at point guard is newcomer Ish Smith. The 28-year-old journeyman was signed in the offseason to be Jackson’s primary back-up. After Smith, the Pistons have Lorenzo Brown and Ray McCallum.
Michael Gbinije, Detroit’s second-round draft pick, could be another candidate to assume point-guard duties, but mlive.com reports the rookie has been working mostly on the wing.