July 14, 2014 at 1:00 am

Jodie Meeks motivated to reward Pistons for making him their 'No. 1 priority'

Meet new Piston Jodie Meeks
Meet new Piston Jodie Meeks: Pistons introduce their No. 1 free-agent acquisition.

Auburn Hills — Jodie Meeks wasn’t the No. 1 option for the scoring-starved Los Angeles Lakers last season, but Stan Van Gundy’s lucrative offer and aggressive approach made clear he was the Pistons’ top priority in free agency, from the get-go.

“We were very aggressive going after him on July 1. He’s the guy we targeted,” said Van Gundy Monday as he sat side-by-side with Meeks, his first acquisition as Pistons president.

Meeks is coming off a career year for a bad Lakers team. His mission now is to prove he didn’t just put up good numbers in a losing situation, and to reward the faith of an organization that came calling on the dawn of free agency.

“I was their No. 1 priority,” Meeks said Monday. “He liked the way I competed on offense and defense. That’s my motto: Not worry about the bad shooting nights. Just play hard and let the chips fall where they may.”

The chips fell to Meeks’ door in the form of a three-year, $20 million deal that Meeks didn’t hesitate to sign. After checking with Meeks’ former coaches at his other stops in Milwaukee and Philadelphia — because of course, executive Van Gundy is also coach Van Gundy — he felt more comfortable signing a guy who shot 40 percent on 3-pointers last season.

“Jodie stood out with the numbers,” Van Gundy said. “With the competitiveness and the energy — talk to everyone he’s played for in the NBA — I did a lot of background as a coach and lifelong coach, I care about what other coaches say and the things they said about his work ethic and him as a teammate and everything else. That with what we watched on film and what the numbers said, and he vaulted to the top of the list very quickly.”

For a player who totaled $5 million in five pro seasons, the security of a long-term deal was likely important to him — the same way showing the diversity of his game last season in Los Angeles was critical

“That was a big thing for me,” Meeks said. “Coming into last season I was known as a spot-up shooter, I ran some point guard. I’m not just a spot-up shooter; I’m a scorer and a pretty underrated defender.”

Van Gundy nearly beamed when Meeks spoke about his effort on defense, but Van Gundy made it clear he likes the way Meeks tried to expand his game last season — and appears willing to give him the same chance in Detroit.

“Whatever happens in this league, when you are a 3-point shooter, that’s what you focus on, and the rest of your game gets ignored,” Van Gundy said. “We think he can do more than spot-up shooting.”

Jodie Meeks shows his new Pistons jersey on Monday at Auburn Hills. / Clarence Tabb Jr / The Detroit News