Timing made it tough, but SVG remains resolute Jackson deal was Pistons best long-term play

Reggie Jackson admits he's been doing too much thinking and credits his teammates with encouraging him to relax and stop trying to keep everybody else happy.
Bill Baptist/NBAE/Getty Images
by Keith Langlois
Web Editor

LOS ANGELES – Stan Van Gundy, coach, has a bone to pick with Stan Van Gundy, president of basketball operations.

Well, not really. But the coaching half of Van Gundy's job was made more complicated by the executive side of Van Gundy's decision to deal two starters at the trade deadline for Reggie Jackson.

"It's not like we didn't think about (the present) this year," he said after Monday's shootaround at Staples Center, where the Pistons play the Lakers tonight in the first of a four-game road trip shoehorned into five nights. "We knew as far as for this year that it was a gamble. Just because of continuity, we would've been better off not making moves. We knew that. We thought we could make those moves and still stay right in the playoff race and we were willing to take that gamble because of what we thought it did for the future."

Van Gundy would do the deal again in a heartbeat and views Jackson as an ideal long-term addition. The 2-6 record since the All-Star break, as he sees it, is a byproduct of three things: the disruption of continuity, the strength of schedule and a collective shooting slump by his perimeter gunners.

"If you look at his numbers with us" – 17.1 points, 7.3 rebounds and 5.1 assists with a shooting percentage, subpar at .377, skewed by a 5 of 24 outing in a costly double-overtime loss to the Knicks – "he's played pretty damn well," Van Gundy said.

"The problem is, we haven't won, and so it coincided with him coming. I'm not sure it's on him. I think we're getting out of him what we thought we would get. I think he's been good, and explosive, getting better every game. We haven't won. It's been close games against good teams and we haven't shot the ball."

Over the last three games, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (0 of 13 from the 3-point line), Anthony Tolliver (1 of 11) and Shawne Williams (0 of 5) are a combined 1 of 29 from deep, incomprehensibly below expectations. As a team over that span, the Pistons are at 19 percent.

"If that 19 percent is even 30 percent – forget it being good – we could very well be riding three wins in a row," Van Gundy said. "You have to put things in perspective and be realistic. I don't think we've played great, by any means, and we need to play a lot better. But we also haven't played as bad as a six-game losing streak would indicate."

Games against the Lakers and Clippers at Staples Center are always a time when Pistons owner Tom Gores, who took in Palace games against both Washington and Cleveland coming out of the All-Star break, gets another firsthand glimpse of his team. He and Van Gundy are in virtual daily contact, often via lengthy phone conversations.

"I think he's disappointed, quite honestly," he said of the recent skid when the Pistons had surged to the cusp of playoff position. "We were right there at the break and feeling like we had a chance and I think he's probably as disappointed and as frustrated as we are. But still very supportive and on board. Tom's got a lot of resolve. He's a resolute guy – he doesn't give in easily. He'd be the perfect guy to coach because he doesn't give in, ever. He's been fabulous."