Detroit — Over the past couple of weeks, there have been signs that Reggie Jackson’s return was approaching. He’s been doing more shooting and running in practice, looking to build his endurance.
Wednesday was the day.
Jackson returned to the lineup against the Sacramento Kings and played in his first game since Oct. 24, after dealing with a back injury. Jackson had an extensive rehab because of back spasms in his lumbar area and came off the bench, providing some needed minutes at point guard, with both Tim Frazier and Bruce Brown out because of the flu.
“It gives you another scorer, ball-handler and experienced guy at that position,” coach Dwane Casey said pregame. “We are not going to start him; we are going to start Derrick (Rose) but we will have Reggie come off the bench to give us a spark.
“The games that Reggie has played for the Pistons and the games he has played over the time he has been here have been pretty good. So, his key is coming back, staying healthy and giving us what he can give us.”
Jackson had 22 points, three rebounds and four assists in 20 minutes of the Pistons' win over the Kings. He hit a couple of his trademark floaters in the lane, showing that he hadn’t lost his offensive game, but his conditioning may be the bigger concern.
Following Wednesday morning’s shootaround at the practice facility, Jackson wasn’t sure how much he’d be able to contribute and what his minutes would look like but just getting back in a good rhythm was his primary objective.
“I think that’s why I have a minutes restriction. I don’t know how well I’m going to feel,” Jackson said. “Adrenaline is a different thing, so I imagine I’ll probably be winded a little early. I’m just going out here to try to compete in the time I’m allotted to play.”
Jackson was the opening-night starter and was projected to play a bigger role this season, after playing all 82 games last season. Derrick Rose has moved into the starting lineup and with Jackson out, the Pistons have used Bruce Brown as a starter for a stint, along with Tim Frazier.
Coach Dwane Casey said this week that Jackson has regained some of the spring in his step and was “dunking on people” in practice. Jackson was a little more cautious about his assessment of his process so far.
“We’ll see. I’ve been trying to make explosive plays. I don’t know if I’ve been completing dunks on people, but I’ve tried a couple,” he said. “I feel good and that’s what’s given me my solace that I’m ready to go out here and compete again.”
Jackson hasn't played since Oct. 24 and will on a minutes restriction initially. The Detroit News
A league source confirmed that the Pistons were granted a disabled player exception for Blake Griffin, who is expected to miss the remainder of the season after having knee surgery this month.
The value of the exception is $9.2 million and could be used in a trade if they need to bring in more value than they send out. The exception expires March 10, but doesn’t come with an additional roster spot, though, which would mean the Pistons would have to make another roster move, such as waiving a player or opening a spot in another trade, before using it.
The Pistons had a similar exception when John Leuer was injured a couple of years ago but didn’t utilize it.
Shams Charania of The Athletic was first to report the approval of the exception.
In and out
Andre Drummond missed the game because of a lip laceration, a result of having his front tooth knocked out in Monday’s game at Washington. Drummond was on the bench during the game but didn’t play.
Additionally, with Brown and Frazier out, the Pistons had two-way players Louis King and Jordan Bone available from the Grand Rapids Drive.