Hustling Back

After a year lost to injury, teammates happy for Jerebko’s return

Jonas Jerebko and his teammates are confident that he'll return to 100% after losing a year to injury.
Allen Einstein/NBAE/Getty Images
After more than 14 months away from the game, it would surprise no one if Jonas Jerebko had to scrape off a few more layers of rust than the next guy.

What would surprise his teammates, at least, is if Jerebko doesn’t take a sandblaster to the situation and grind away until he’s back to the dynamo who worked his way into the starting lineup as a second-round rookie two years ago, before a preseason Achilles tendon tear wiped out his second NBA season.

“Jonas is a workaholic,” Will Bynum grinned. “Jonas was up in Chicago at Tim Grover’s working out with me. Jonas is ready. He was ready to play last year. I’m not worried about Jonas at all.”

Jerebko, who returned to the Pistons when he and Joe Dumars shook hands on a four-year contract last week that allowed him to start training camp Friday on time, declared himself “150 percent” ready to go and said he feels no lingering after-effects of the injury.

“High energy, extremely hard working, a guy who can play multiple positions, brings a great deal of hustle and effort into the game,” Lawrence Frank said after watching Jerebko bounce around in practice for a few days. “He’s a guy who is very excited to be back, a great teammate and I think he’s going to be a very important part of our team.

“(A long injury layoff) usually affects your timing, but his body looks great. He’s gained muscle and the more we play him, the more we’ll see where he’s at.”

Austin Daye came into the league with the Pistons with Jerebko in 2009 and he smiles when asked how he expects Jerebko to approach his return.

“I told him right before we started, ‘Look, man, it’s just like getting back on a bike, but you’ve got to take your time.’ When you try to go all out and do things you were doing before, it’s just hard. I’ve come back from injury. Even though you’ve prepared yourself, there is nothing like a real game. So I’ve just told him, ‘Every time you’re out there, take your time.’ ”

From the front office to the coaching staff to the players, Jerebko’s absence was felt across the board a year ago for the way his hustle plays perked everyone up.

“Especially the bigs,” Bynum said. “I think that was one of the things we were missing last year. A big with constant energy, constant talking and constant effort. Ben Wallace does it, but Ben’s 37. Jonas is going to be a high-energy guy, he’s going to be working his tail off, and that goes all the way down through everybody.”