Pistons’ Van Gundy: We’re not trading Jackson for Bledsoe
Auburn Hills — It’s not quite February, but Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy had to revert to his trade-deadline mode a little earlier than usual on Friday.
With rumors emerging that the Pistons were in trade discussions involving Reggie Jackson going to the Phoenix Suns for Eric Bledsoe and others involving a third team, Van Gundy was compelled to talk to his point guard about the situation.
It was reminiscent of last season, when similar rumors surfaced about Jackson being shopped around the league during the trade deadline and after the season.
“It was crazy yesterday,” Van Gundy said Friday. “I left practice yesterday and there’s a rumor out on Reggie and Bledsoe so I had to get home and call Reggie and say we’re not trading you for Bledsoe. I don’t usually address all of them but it’s early in the (season). You can’t address all of them at the trade deadline, but I felt the need to address this.”
Van Gundy has said in the past that general manager Jeff Bower does his due diligence in reaching out about trade possibilities — and in this case, there may have been preliminary talks — but nothing came to fruition.
That’s usual around the trade deadline in February, but November it’s not common. Because of the issues with Bledsoe, who has played in just three games after a blowup with the Suns’ front office over their 0-3 start and the firing of coach Earl Watson, he’s become a hot name on the trade circuit.
It’s not the first time the Pistons reportedly have been interested in Bledsoe, and with the way Jackson has returned to form, it’s plausible that his name could be linked to trades, with his increased value. But with the Pistons’ 5-3 start, the timing is a bit odd to tinker with the chemistry of the team.
“You always consider everything,” Van Gundy said. “I’ve said it before and it’s absolutely true: At least 99 percent of the rumors that come out on trades never come to fruition. If Jeff Bower talks to anybody — to (Celtics president) Danny Ainge — there’s a rumored Boston trade.
“These guys talk to each other every day — that’s what they do.”
Jackson said he hadn’t heard about any of the rumors before Van Gundy contacted him at about 3 p.m. Thursday.
“I don’t pay attention and really don’t care (about rumors),” Jackson said. “Everybody’s media nowadays. Anybody can write anything and it can go on the web. That’s the beauty and downfall of the internet. Who cares? Everybody’s going to talk and have their own opinion.
“I’m still in Detroit and still here to compete and make my team the best it can be. If something else happens, it happens. That’s not something I’m concerned about.”
Forward Jon Leuer left Tuesday’s game against the Lakers because of a sprained left ankle and has not practiced since. Leuer missed Friday’s game and Van Gundy said Leuer is doubtful for Saturday’s matchup against the Kings and is more likely to be ready for the next game, on Wednesday against the Indiana Pacers.
Leuer was in a walking boot ahead of Friday’s game and depending on the severity of the issue, the Pistons will find more playing time for Anthony Tolliver and Henry Ellenson. Leuer also played minutes as the backup center, which could open opportunities for Boban Marjanovic and Eric Moreland behind Andre Drummond.
The Pistons rank 29th in the league in free-throw attempts (124) and makes (97), which has become a concern for Van Gundy. He’s worried about not being aggressive enough and settling for jump shots, instead of forcing the defense to guard drives to the rim.
“The calls are what they are,” he said. “We’ve got to get our bigs to put more pressure on the basket and we’ve got to get guys turning the corner to put more pressure on the basket and hopefully we will gradually get to the line more.”
Pistons vs. Kings
Tip-off: 7 Saturday, Little Caesars Arena, Detroit.
Outlook: The Kings (1-7) have lost six straight, including their last four on the road. Rookie point guard De’Aaron Fox (12.5 points, 4.1 rebounds and 5.1 assists) leads the offense.