Auburn Hills — Stan Van Gundy has been through it plenty of times before — and this time is no different.
Around late January and early February before the trade deadline, the rumors start to fly and players’ names are tossed around in different scenarios almost on a daily basis.
On Friday night, a whopper popped up in a report by ESPN’s Marc Stein and Chris Hayes: the Pistons were having ongoing discussions with the Minnesota Timberwolves to trade point guard Reggie Jackson for Ricky Rubio.
While Van Gundy admitted that general manager Jeff Bower is working to gauge other teams in the league to find deals that might interest the Pistons, Van Gundy said there’s no real consideration and nothing more than normal chatter in the Jackson-for-Rubio talk.
“I’m not denying that discussions take place — they take place all the time,” Van Gundy said Saturday morning. “That’s a lot different than considerations. Somebody says, ‘Would you consider Ricky Rubio for Reggie Jackson?’ That discussion might have taken place — and clearly we didn’t make that move.
“If we want to report all those, (hypothetically) we want to see if they want to go (rookie Michael) Gbinije for LeBron (James). So, that discussion took place. If I ask about a guy, that discussion took place. It’s all so much (BS).”
It’s an unusual time, with unusual rumors — and Van Gundy went beyond a normal denial to quash the rumors. On one hand, it’s normal talk between teams to gauge interest in certain players.
That happens all the time. But to put more credence in one set of “discussions” than any other is a bit premature. Whether it’s a clearly imbalanced offer or one that just doesn’t garner much interest, it’s unrealistic to presume that talks don’t go perpetually as teams look at tinkering before the deadline — the media and fans just don’t hear about them as often.
“These discussions happen all the time and I love it when teams say somebody is off limits. I won’t lie to my guys. There’s no one in this league who is off limits,” Van Gundy said. “Who’s the most off-limits guy? LeBron? What if the Warriors offered Kevin Durant and Steph Curry? They wouldn’t consider that? There’s no deal they wouldn’t consider?
“Everybody’s available. I got asked a question the other day: there’s a report out there that Reggie’s available for the right price. Everyone in the league is available for the right price! It’s just for your main guys, the right price is a lot steeper and usually doesn’t come around.”
While the typical thing for a team president to say would be that the stars are off limits and that they’re not trading their top players, Van Gundy keeps things completely honest and lets players know that it’s unlikely, but anyone can be traded for the deal in return.
“This stuff is crazy. I’m not going to be the guy to step up and say that none of these guys is available — because I’m not lying to anybody,” Van Gundy said. “Was the discussion had? I don’t know. Maybe it was. I wouldn’t doubt it. I know people are interested in him.
“People are interested in Andre (Drummond). I know we’ve had a lot of discussions on those guys — and really, all of our top seven or eight guys. There’s been people who called about Boban (Marjanovic) and about (Aron) Baynes. There’s all kinds of discussions. I’ll give you a blanket ‘yes’ that all those discussions have taken place.”
Trade talk nixed
Jackson, 26, missed the first 21 games of the season and the Pistons (20-24) have struggled to a 9-14 mark since his return from knee tendinitis. As he’s worked his way back to playing shape, Jackson has posted 16.7 points and 5.7 assists — down from 18.8 points and 6.2 assists last season — and the Pistons’ overall defense has dipped.
But Van Gundy looked to ease Jackson’s concerns on Friday night, reaching out to assure Jackson that the rumors were just that — rumors.
“I normally don’t even address it (with players), because most of these guys know,” Van Gundy said. “Reggie’s agent had called Jeff (Friday) night, so I texted Reggie and said this is the crazy season — and we’re not trading you for Ricky Rubio. And that was it.
“The fact that it was out there and concerned his agent enough to call, I addressed it.”
With the trade deadline approaching on Feb. 23, Van Gundy admitted that Bower is taking calls and listening to offers, but is weeding through them to find the ones that are serious and viable and could potentially benefit the Pistons.
There are some that are outlandish and others that might rise to the level of serious interest, which he then takes to Van Gundy for consideration and discussion.
“To be honest, I don’t know if the discussion was had, because Jeff only brings to me the stuff that we would consider. There’s so many of these discussions that he’s not even going to bring to me (smaller stuff),” Van Gundy said. “He doesn’t do that with me. He brings me the stuff, like when we got close to Reggie two years ago or Marcus (Morris) when we traded for him or Tobias (Harris). That stuff comes to me.
“I don’t even know if that discussion took place — I’m just saying it’s very possible because we’ve had calls on Reggie; we’ve had calls on Andre (Drummond). People are interested in those guys. If you’re not getting any calls on your guys — wow.”