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Late roster, rotation decisions are tough for Van Gundy

Rod Beard
The Detroit News
Ray McCallum

Auburn Hills — It’s getting close to decision time for Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy.

As the preseason winds down, he’ll have to finalize the roster, choosing between Ray McCallum Jr. and Lorenzo Brown for the role of third point guard. It’s a decision that will need to be made by the end of Saturday’s practice, so the other player will have a chance to clear waivers.

Another looming choice is the initial playing rotation — Van Gundy generally likes a nine-man group — before the regular season starts on Wednesday at Toronto.

Van Gundy has used the six exhibition games, plus practices, to help him break things down, but there’s no consensus, even among the assistant coaches. Stanley Johnson, Darrun Hilliard, Reggie Bullock and rookie Michael Gbinije all are neck-and-neck for playing time.

“I had (the assistants) after the game the other day give me their depth chart. I told them today they were absolutely no help — because it was literally all over the place,” Van Gundy said Friday. “There were literally all four wing guys people thought should be the guy in the rotation off the bench.”

In Van Gundy’s system, there isn’t enough room nor enough minutes to spread things that thin. He’ll have the final say and although things could change — as they did with Bullock and Hilliard getting more playing time in the second half of last season — it’s always better to get that first opportunity.

The staff didn’t help Van Gundy much in picking a point guard either, as they were split in their assessments of McCallum and Brown.

“To be honest, everything they said in their evaluations was right on,” Van Gundy said. “At both spots, it’s more what you think you’re going to need the most instead of someone emerging ahead of someone else.”

“That’s going to be a very difficult decision. Whichever one of those guys I have to call in and tell them he got cut, it’s going to be very difficult.”

Trey Freeman also likely will be a roster casualty, but as planned, could wind up with the D-League affiliate, the Grand Rapids Drive.

Rod.Beard@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard