Pistons’ Jackson post-procedure: ‘Still chasing Eastern Finals’

James Hawkins
The Detroit News
Reggie Jackson

Auburn Hills – The countdown for Pistons starting point guard Reggie Jackson’s return has begun.

Jackson had platelet-rich plasma injections in New York on Monday morning to help treat tendinosis in his left knee and a UCL sprain in his right thumb.

According to coach Stan Van Gundy, Jackson will miss an estimated 6-8 weeks.

Jackson posted a short video on Instagram of him walking on crutches following the morning procedure with the hashtag #roadtorecoverybeginsnow.

“We on the way back,” Jackson said. “Light procedure. We’re still chasing that Eastern Conference Finals this year.”

Jackson later posted another video of him being pushed in a wheelchair after landing back in Michigan.

Before Monday night’s exhibition home opener against the Spurs, Van Gundy said he heard Jackson had a “successful procedure” and his timetable for recovery will be determined down the road based on how he feels.

“He has had that (thumb problem) for a long time and since it was bothering him, it was a really good thought to take a look at it,” Van Gundy said. “They did an MRI and he had a little tear in a ligament.

“I don’t think it was severe enough for him to get it done and then have to sit out 6-8 weeks, but if he was going to sit out 6-8 weeks anyways, he might as well get it and feel better. That was the decision and I think a good one.”

With Jackson sidelined, Ish Smith will take over the starting job with Ray McCallum Jr. (Detroit Mercy) and Lorenzo Brown competing for the backup role.

In the exhibition opener against the Nets last Thursday, McCallum had five points on 2-for-3 shooting, four rebounds, four assists, one steal and two turnovers in 21 minutes, while Brown didn’t play.

Van Gundy said Brown will play similar minutes Monday night and then the team will “decide how to go from there.”

“I thought he played pretty well (against the Nets),” Van Gundy said of McCallum. “He plays with a real good energy level. He gets after it defensively and I thought particularly in the first half we got some pretty good execution with him. I didn't think he was as good in the second half on the offensive end, but in fairness, he was also with an entirely different lineup in the second half, and you had guys out there for their first time out there along with him so it was tougher.

“Your point guard has got to be able to create shots, but you got to certainly be able to take care of the ball and keep us organized. I thought Ray did a really good job at both of those and I thought he did a pretty good job of creating shots.”

Leuer jelling with reserves

While it’s only been a couple weeks into training camp, forward Jon Leuer said he and the rest of the reserve unit are starting to mesh together and get accustomed to one another’s skill set.

“It's good. I feel like we're figuring each other out and we're jelling pretty well,” Leuer said. “Obviously that comes with more repetitions and we'll continue to just drill everything offensively and defensively and continue to build that chemistry that we have so far.”

Known as a stretch forward who can knock down 3-pointers, Leuer displayed other facets of his game in the exhibition opener and provided a glimpse of what he can bring off the bench. He led all reserves with 12 points on 6-for-10 shooting with three assists, one block and one rebound in 21 minutes.

Pistons' Jackson chooses plasma injection to treat knee

Leuer missed both of his 3-point attempts and a 21-foot jumper just inside the arc, but showed the ability to create shots for himself as he made four baskets in the paint, one outside the lane and another near the free-throw line.

“I feel like it's a big part of my game, too,” Leuer said. “It's not just being a standstill 3-point shooter. Being able to attack close-outs and put the ball on the floor and make plays for myself and my teammates is something I definitely feel comfortable doing.”

Leaving San Antonio

If Spurs coach Gregg Popovich had it his way, he’d still have big men Boban Marjanovic and Aron Baynes on his roster.

Marjanovic spent one year in San Antonio before signing a three-year, $21 million contract as a restricted free agent with the Pistons this past offseason. Baynes inked a three-year, $20 million contract a year ago after three seasons with the Spurs.

“I miss just having (Marjanovic) around. I still miss Baynes,” Popovich said. “Those guys were great teammates. We certainly wish we could have kept him; financially it just wasn’t possible. It happens to every team.

“You know, you lose guys because you pay people; can’t pay them all. We’re thrilled he got the contract he got here. He’s with a great coach, so he’s going to be well taken care of.”

Hilliard will see action

Van Gundy has been selective about how he's running his playing rotations in the first couple games of the preseason. He’s stuck with his same starting lineup — with Ish Smith in place of Jackson — but is looking to trim the playing rotation to about 10-12.

He planned to play only 10 in the opener last week, but relented to give rookie Henry Ellenson and Marjanovic some minutes. The plan in Monday’s game was to have nine play in the first half, then another two or three in the second half.

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That includes pushing shooting guard Darrun Hilliard up in the rotation ahead of Stanley Johnson, after Hilliard didn’t play in the opener.

“(Johnson) probably will not play until late; we want to get Darrun in the game because he didn’t play at all the other night,” Van Gundy said.

Van Gundy wanted to get each of the starters about 27 minutes but that could fluctuate, based on foul trouble and other factors. He said he also plans more playing time for rookie guard Michael Gbinije, who’s been doing well in practice, but playing in a crowded group of wings, it’s hard to find minutes.

Rod Beard contributed to this report