Pistons’ Jackson progressing, return remains unclear
Detroit — Reggie Jackson isn’t quite there yet.
When he was healthy, Jackson was a fixture in the practice gym, generally one of the last players getting extra shots and honing his game.
Jackson might need a few more weeks to get to that point. He’s walking without a protective boot or any other walking aids but he’s just not yet at the point of getting back on the court to put up shots.
“He’s been doing a little bit of rehab work and shooting,” coach Stan Van Gundy said after Wednesday morning shootaround, the last before the weeklong All-Star break begins Thursday.
Tuesday marked seven weeks since Jackson suffered a Grade-3 right ankle sprain on Dec. 26 against the Indiana Pacers. His initial timeline was six to eight weeks before he was to be re-examined, but there haven’t been any setbacks in the interim.
Van Gundy said last week that the hope was for Jackson to be ready to do some running and cutting during the All-Star break. He didn’t change that expectation but didn’t give a sparkling update either.
“I don’t have any preconceived notion at all of when he’ll be back,” Van Gundy said Wednesday before the game against the Hawks. “When (the team doctors) tell me he’s back, he’s back.”
The Pistons seem to need Jackson now more than ever. The offense has had its issues, but the defense has been erratic and shoddy. At least a healthy Jackson could help in one of those areas.
With the addition of Blake Griffin, along with Jameer Nelson and James Ennis III, the roster looks a lot different than it did when Jackson sustained the injury. Having another piece to work through and around won’t be very difficult for Van Gundy, in trying to draw up plays for the starting group with Jackson and Griffin.
“You might have to pare things down without Reggie but he’s easy to integrate when he comes back; you can run a lot of stuff,” Van Gundy said. “Point guards are pretty easy to run stuff with, especially a guy like him.
“He can beat you off the dribble, turn the corner, make all the passes and he can shoot the ball.”
The Griffin factor
Griffin brings an added element of ball-handling and play-making on the perimeter that the Pistons will have to adjust to. With a condensed schedule and limited practices, they’ve been doing much of their integration on the fly; the two practices after the All-Star break will give them move time to work on the details.
Van Gundy pointed out that in previous trades, the new players were easy to add: Jackson plugged into a pick-and-roll offense easily as the new point guard. Tobias Harris’ game was similar to Marcus Morris’ when he arrived.
Griffin’s skill set, on the other hand, is vastly different than Harris’ and takes some additional fine-tuning to meld it with the rest of the roster.
“Blake at (power forward) with an offense that was built with Tobias and (Anthony Tolliver) is not necessarily a really good fit,” Van Gundy said. “We tried to do some things on the fly. We’ve got to get some things coming back where we can still play with good movement but where we’re playing to his strengths a little more.
“It’s a mishmash right now. We probably should have gotten to some of that a little bit earlier but we’ll address it when we come back (from All-Star break).”