Miami — Brandon Jennings has waiting 11 months to get back into an NBA game.
And he’ll likely have to wait a little bit longer.
Although Jennings made the trip on the road with the Pistons for road games against the Miami Heat and Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday and Wednesday night, respectively, he’s still not in a position to get any playing time.
Following his one-game stint with the Grand Rapids Drive on Saturday, Jennings had his scoring touch and court vision, but didn’t impress coach Stan Van Gundy with his defense or lateral movement.
Van Gundy said that Jennings will dress for Tuesday night’s game against the Heat, but likely won’t play, meaning Steve Blake still is the backup point guard.
“He will be (in uniform); likely he doesn’t play,” Van Gundy said. “He’s available if something happens. Steve will be the backup point guard, so it’s likely (Jennings) doesn’t play.
“It’s unlikely he play the next three games, but we’ll dress him.”
The Pistons also play the Boston Celtics at home on Saturday at The Palace, but it looks like Jennings likely won’t be ready to crack the lineup until at least Dec. 29 at the New York Knicks.
While Jennings is clamoring to play, he realizes he needs to get more five-on-five play in practice and to improve his physical conditioning to earn more minutes.
But Van Gundy didn’t rule out using Jennings in an emergency situation, if it comes to that.
“He’s still got some work to do — and he knows that,” Van Gundy said. “If something comes up where we need a third guy, he’ll be our guy. He’s got practice on Thursday and we’ll have two days of practice after the Boston game, so he’s got some time to get himself ready and show us he’s ready.”
In an offense-defense substitution situation, Van Gundy probably wouldn’t use Jennings, either, because of the liability he might become on the defensive end. Though he could provide something on offense, the risk isn’t worth it.
“He’d had to play defense too; we can’t do the football thing. For these two games, it would be major foul trouble or injury on one of the point guards — that’s the only way he gets in.”
Return to Miami
As many Pistons players have faced their former teams in the early part of the season, Van Gundy is facing one of his former teams in the Heat, where he coached from 2003-05, seeing the beginning of Dwyane Wade’s career.
Van Gundy said he doesn’t get too nostalgic about his time with Miami, as it’s been so long since he was part of the organization.
“It’s been a long time now since I’ve been here,” he said. “When I first came back, yes, but not anymore. It’s been so long. I’ve been out of here for 10 years. I have no nostalgia here. I have people here — obviously (Heat coach Erik) Spoelstra is a good friend.”
Van Gundy spent 12 years with the Heat, as an assistant coach under Pat Riley from 1995-2003 and head coach for two years. He was at the helm in 2004-05, when the Heat had Shaquille O’Neal and Wade and lost to the Pistons in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals
Pistons at Hawks
Tipoff: 8 p.m. Wednesday, Philips Arena, Atlanta
Outlook: The Pistons took the first meeting, a surprising win road win in the season opener and the Hawks won four of the next five at home. They enter with a four-game winning streak.