Pistons open camp with securing deals a priority

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Auburn Hills —  Last season, the Pistons opened training camp with several question marks about the health of players on the roster.

This year, coach Stan Van Gundy doesn’t have the same concerns, with camp set to open on Monday. The Pistons return all of their starters and bolstered their bench by adding free agent guard Ish Smith, forward Jon Leuer and center Boban Marjanovic to the reserve group.

Van Gundy termed all the issues as minor, but noted Reggie Jackson (knee tendinitis), Darrun Hilliard (back) and Marjanovic (finger) were the only injuries to report.

“Reggie’s got some knee tendinitis that will probably limit him to one practice when we’re going twice a day,” Van Gundy said Friday. “Darrun Hilliard’s recovered well. He can go fully but we’ll limit him to one practice. We’ll have five days over the course of first 12 days (of training camp) where we’ll go twice.

“Boban dislocated a finger the other day but it’s back in place — not displaced — and he’s fine to go. Everybody should be participating; just a couple guys will be a little bit limited, more as precaution than anything else.”

Last fall, the Pistons were concerned about whether Andre Drummond would sign a contract extension. He signed a five-year, $125 million deal this summer, but a similar scenario exists with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Reggie Bullock, whose rookie contracts are up. If they can’t reach a deal by the Oct. 31 deadline, both players could become restricted free agents next summer.

General manager Jeff Bower said the team has been in ongoing discussions with both players and their agents, but haven’t reached a deal yet.

“We’re all in agreement it’s an atmosphere and environment where they have good thoughts,” Bower said. “We’re going to continue to take those talks a little bit further through the month and see if there’s an opportunity to reach an extension now.”

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After the Pistons used their cap space to re-sign Drummond and bring in the free agents, they don’t any remaining space, but would go over the cap to re-sign either or both players.

“It’s different for us now because we’ll be over the cap regardless next summer,” Van Gundy said. “We can try to get extensions done — and we’d like to if we can — if we can come to an agreement on something mutually beneficial.

“In a perfect world, we’d like to get both of those done.”

Anthem protocol

Van Gundy said the Pistons players and coaches have discussed showing some form of unity or protest of recent social issues, in light of other athletes such as quarterback Colin Kaepernick, which have spread in recent weeks.

He didn’t go into specifics but hinted Marcus Morris was one of the players interested in doing something.

NBA players are mandated to stand during the national anthem, so it’s unclear what the Pistons might do.

“That’s what everybody’s focused on, which to me is a little bit unfortunate. The interest is ‘Are they going to stand or not?’” Van Gundy said.

“Unfortunately, that’s gotten us away from talking about the issues that are really out there — the police violence against people of color.

“It’s great that we have players that want to be part of that conversation and a lot of players want to go beyond that conversation and be part of the solution. Where we are right now is trying to support our players, not trying to dissuade them from anything.”


Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard