Signing free agent Ish Smith as a backup point guard behind starter Reggie Jackson generated some buzz among the Detroit Pistons and their fan base.
Now, amid reports that Jackson will miss six to eight weeks to lingering tendinitis in his left knee, some of that enthusiasm has morphed into a sense of relief.
Pistons beat writer Rod Beard of the Detroit Newspicked up on a Twitter report Wednesday morning by ESPN.com's Marc Stein that Jackson would miss the start of the 2016-17 season, including speculation that the Pistons would explore the market of available replacements. But Stan Van Gundy, Detroit's coach and president of basketball operations, made it clear that Smith is the likely choice to step into Jackson's role until his leading scorer from last season (18.8) returns.
#Pistons SVG: "I feel comfortable with Ish (Smith)" at starting PG.— Rod Beard (@detnewsRodBeard) October 5, 2016
Van Gundy knew before the start of training camp that Jackson had been bothered by that left knee, adjusting his court time accordingly. Here's more from Beard's report at midday Wednesday:
Jackson has a history of knee issues, as far back as his time with the Oklahoma City Thunder, in his first three-plus years in the league, before coming to the Pistons in 2014-15 at the trade deadline.
Jackson had been limited to only one practice during two-a-day workouts in training camp, so sitting out on Tuesday wasn’t alarming.
“We’ve got further evaluation going on, on what’s going to need to happen with him. We’ll have to see how long (he might be limited),” Van Gundy said. “He’s had this since he came back in September, so it was before camp."
As more about Jackson's options came to light, along with the Pistons' position on them, Beard kept the team's fans informed via social media:
To clarify, #Pistons Reggie Jackson COULD miss as long as 6-8 weeks, depending on treatment option he chooses.— Rod Beard (@detnewsRodBeard) October 5, 2016
Platelet-rich plasma option is longest and would be in that range. Other options are shorter. https://t.co/y5ijEXKEZT— Rod Beard (@detnewsRodBeard) October 5, 2016
#Pistons SVG says a trade isn't likely, especially for such a short period.— Rod Beard (@detnewsRodBeard) October 5, 2016
The sky IS NOT falling.— Rod Beard (@detnewsRodBeard) October 5, 2016
Smith is a pretty good insurance policy and stop-gap performer, based on the most recent of his six NBA seasons. After being traded from New Orleans to Philadelphia last December, he started 50 games for the Sixers and averaged 16.3 points and 7.7 assists per 36 minutes, the best productivity of his career.
Smith, at 6-foot and 175 pounds, plays at a faster pace than Jackson, too, which the Pistons were looking forward to as a way to shift gears on opponents. For a while, it looks as if he'll be their first gear.