AUBURN HILLS – The good news: Reggie Jackson’s knee won’t keep him out of tonight’s preseason opener. The bad news: Jackson’s groin will.
The caveat: The bad news isn’t as bad as the good news is good. There is nothing worrisome about Jackson’s groin tightness – officially it’s a sore right adductor – but it’s not worth the risk of exacerbating the injury to get him minutes in the Pistons debut at Little Caesars Arena against Charlotte.
“He’s not going to play tonight. They did the MRI; there’s no damage,” Stan Van Gundy said after the morning shootaround. “So he’s fine, but he’s tight and he’s sore so he’s not going to go tonight.”
Ish Smith will start for Jackson with Avery Bradley, Tobias Harris, Stanley Johnson and Andre Drummond. With Dwight Buycks, one of the two Pistons on two-way contracts, also unable to play (left hip flexor), it means Langston Galloway will log all or nearly all of his minutes at point guard.
“We had planned to split his minutes, which would be better because I really want to see him at the two,” Van Gundy said. “But that’s also why we brought him here. The tough part is he missed the early part of camp, so now he’s going to have to play the point not having practiced a whole lot. And even in the practices, not having a lot of minutes at the point. He’s got about eight minutes of experience as a point guard in our system and he gets to play there tonight.”
Beno Udrih, in training camp without a contract, will be the No. 3 point guard if Van Gundy wants to keep Smith and Galloway from playing extended minutes.
Van Gundy said he expects to play 10 players significant minutes with the possibility of an 11th or 12th player getting spot minutes. With 14 players in camp he considers possibilities for a rotation role and a reduced preseason – only five games, down from the standard of eight of the recent past – there just won’t be as many chances to look at everybody.
“Nope. Not all the combinations,” Van Gundy said. “You look at as many things as you can, but you’ve got practice, too.”
He’s ready – players, too – to go against somebody else, anybody else, after banging heads through the two-a-day sessions of camp.
“I just want to see us play. Nothing specific in terms of expectations or anything else,” Van Gundy said. “What I would like to see is you play flawlessly at both ends of the floor. You want to see ’em play great, but I want to get them out there. The scrimmages provide you some film to work with, but you’re playing against yourself. You know what’s coming at both ends of the floor. This is a little different now. So good or bad tonight, it gives us a good starting point in terms of teaching.”