Stan Van Gundy talks about the Pistons' loss to the Charlotte Hornets. Red Beard, The Detroit News
Detroit — The preseason will present Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy with an opportunity to tinker with the lineup a little bit.
The first nine days of training camp have given him some indication of what he’d like to do in terms of a playing rotation, but there’s still plenty more to determine in locking down which players will get the majority of the playing time.
Van Gundy generally likes to have a core rotation of about nine, but the depth the Pistons have in camp this year could push that number to 10 or more, depending on the circumstance.
“With having Avery (Bradley), Langston (Galloway) and Luke (Kennard) and Henry (Ellenson) emerging and Anthony Tolliver back, we have a lot of new people and a lot of depth — which is a blessing — but trying to figure out how they fit together best is not going to be easy,” Van Gundy said before Wednesday’s preseason opener against the Hornets at Little Caesars Arena. “We’ll certainly need the rest of these two weeks leading into the first (regular-season) game to do that.”
The five-game preseason will allow some in-game assessment of the progress the players are making from their work in training camp. But the offseason acquisitions are going to make some of those decisions a bit tougher.
Andre Drummond talks about the preseason opener and Little Caesars Arena. Rod Beard, The Detroit News
Adding perimeter shooting will make for some increased depth, but inevitably, some players are going to have to distinguish themselves to get more playing time.
“(Depth gives) more versatility but you eventually would like to settle on eight or nine guys who are going to be out there every night and use the other guys as situations arise,” Van Gundy said. “I’m nowhere near being able to do that right now.”
Van Gundy was planning on using a starting lineup of Reggie Jackson, Avery Bradley, Stanley Johnson, Tobias Harris and Andre Drummond, but Jackson’s sore groin put Ish Smith into the starting lineup for Wednesday’s opener.
The next five that look to be in line for big playing time are Galloway, Kennard, Reggie Bullock, Jon Leuer and Boban Marjanovic. That can change as the preseason continues those are only preliminary rotations.
Playing it safe
Jackson was bothered by a sore groin and sat out the first game, forcing another shift in the rotation. After missing 30 games last season because of knee tendinitis, holding Jackson out to start the preseason is more precautionary than dire concern about the knee getting worse.
“He’s not going to play tonight,” Van Gundy said after Wednesday morning’s shootaround.
“They did the MRI and there’s no damage, so he’s fine, but he’s tight and he’s sore, so he’s not going to go tonight.”
Jackson sustained the injury in Tuesday’s practice and his status was listed as day-to-day but the Pistons are being cautious with Jackson, given his issues with tendinitis in his left knee from last season. The groin soreness is in his right leg, so there’s no direct relationship between the two injuries.
Van Gundy said they’ll continue to bring Jackson along slowly, but they’re hopeful he’ll be ready for the Friday’s game against the Hawks.
Jackson dressed did some light shooting warm-ups in Wednesday’s pregame.
Dwight Buycks (hip flexor) also missed Wednesday’s opener.
Grand Rapids addition
The Pistons have a somewhat familiar face roaming around their practice facility. George Lynch, who played on the North Carolina team that beat the Fab Five in the 1993 NCAA championship, joined the staff as an assistant coach with the Grand Rapids Drive.
Lynch is participating with a training program to help former players get into the coaching profession.
Lynch joins Dion Glover and Rob Werdann, who is the new head coach of the Drive.
“George was a tough, hard-playing guy,” Van Gundy said. “That was a great addition for us in Grand Rapids.”