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Harper eager to showcase his abilities with Pistons

James Hawkins
The Detroit News

Auburn Hills — With injuries to forwards Stanley Johnson and Anthony Tolliver hampering an already thin reserve unit, Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy decided to bring in a familiar face.

On Wednesday, the Pistons signed forward Justin Harper from the D-League’s Los Angeles D-Fenders to a 10-day contract. Terms of the agreement weren’t disclosed.

Harper (6-foot-10, 225 pounds) is averaging 14.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 34 games with the D-Fenders. He’s shooting 48.5 percent overall, 40.3 percent on 3-pointers and 88.5 percent from the free-throw line.

More important is that Harper has been a part of the Pistons Summer League team.

“He had been playing very well in the D-League,” Van Gundy said before Wednesday’s game against the 76ers. “He’s played the last two summers with us in Summer League, so he’s got a familiarity with our terminology and the way we play.

“Obviously, in these kinds of situations you’re looking for somebody who can step in and play right away. You’re looking for a guy who can go through one walkthrough (Wednesday morning) and give you minutes (against the 76ers) if he needs to.”

Harper said he found out Monday he was being called up.

D-Leaguer looks set to fill in for Pistons' Johnson

“We had just come off a home stand where we played three games in four nights ... and I got the call from my agent (Michael Siegel) on our off day asking if I can catch a red-eye flight out here to Detroit,” said Harper, who got in Tuesday morning. “It’s pretty exciting but it’s a quick turnaround just going from West Coast to East Coast.”

While there’s no guaranteed playing time or plan in place for Harper, he gives the Pistons the ability to stretch the floor and provides another scoring option.

“When you take the chance of playing in the D-League, this is what you play hard and work hard for is just for the opportunity to get called up and showcase your abilities, talents and what you can do to help a team win on the next level,” Harper said. “That’s my main focus, is being able to show what I can do and carve out a niche for myself.

“If not with Detroit, then another team but hopefully with Detroit because I think I can definitely help this team. I’m just going to come in and try to work hard and just earn a role.”

Week ‘a little weird’

The past week has been one of the strangest of JoelAnthony’s nine-year career.

The Pistons center was traded to the Rockets — and later the 76ers — along with a protected 2016 first-round pick as part of the deal for forward Donatas Motiejunas and guard Marcus Thornton.

But after the trade was voided Monday due to medical concerns with Motiejunas’ back, Anthony returned to Detroit.

“I didn’t even make it down (to Philadelphia),” Anthony said. “I wasn’t sure what was going to happen because the trade hadn’t gone through. It was the most interesting trade I’ve been a part of.

“It obviously is a little awkward, a little weird. It’s been one of the weirdest weeks I’ve had as a professional.”

Anthony is averaging 0.7 points and 1.2 rebounds in 13 games.

Slam dunks

An MRI confirmed Johnson suffered a right shoulder sprain Monday, and he will undergo rehab before being evaluated next week.

“I hope he’ll be able to bounce back, but it’s hard to judge,” Van Gundy said. “It could’ve been worse as an injury, but that’s the good news. We’ll just have to see where he is with the injury and where he is with the pain (next week).”

... Van Gundy said guard Jodie Meeks (right foot) still hasn’t practiced after suffering a setback in his recovery this month.

“He goes back to the doctor next week,” Van Gundy said. “We’ll check in and see what the healing process has been like, and we’ll go from there.”

jhawkins@detroitnews.com

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