Jackson: ‘I can cut again’ after summer rehab for injury that undermined Pistons 2017-18 season

Reggie Jackson says his ankle feels good after a summer in which he was limited to spending his time on rehabilitation concerns.
Chris Schwegler/NBAE/Getty Images
by Keith Langlois
Web Editor

AUBURN HILLS – Reggie Jackson spent a ton of time this summer getting to know Dwane Casey, talking basketball and life. He mingled with the handful of teammates who also make Southern California their off-season home base. He watched individual workouts conducted by Casey’s assistant coaches as they drilled the things Casey wants to bring to the Pistons offense.

One thing he didn’t do: spend time on the basketball court.

The ankle injury that cost him 37 games and nearly three months last season hovered over his summer, as well.

“Probably didn’t heal the way everybody thought it might once we had time off,” Jackson said. “Just haven’t been able to get on the court, but been doing everything I can to get healthy.”

The good news is that Jackson says his right ankle – in which he tore ligaments in a Grade 3 sprain, the most severe – now feels back to form. He said there was no surgery but he had a “minor procedure, similar to what I did with my knee before.” Jackson was diagnosed with left knee tendinosis a week into training camp 2016, had a platelet-rich plasma injection and missed the first 20 games.

“It actually feels good. I feel like I can cut again,” he said. “Once I get going fully, just see how it feels. But it feels night and day compared to last year. … I think anybody who watched, I never looked right. I never ran right. But that’s what you do. Everybody has nicks and bruises in this game. I wouldn’t change it any other way. I would still come back and play. It was just unfortunate that it wasn’t healed.”

The Pistons were 19-14 after routing Indiana on Dec. 26 when Jackson rolled his ankle. Without him, they went 12-25. He rushed his return to help one last desperate playoff push to salvage a season in which the Pistons traded for Blake Griffin in late January hoping Jackson would be back after the All-Star break. The Pistons went 6-2 in the eight games Griffin and Jackson played together before Griffin suffered a bone contusion of his ankle and sat out the final eight games.

For comparison purposes, Glenn Robinson III – signed by the Pistons as a free agent in July – suffered a similar injury involving torn ankle ligaments in preseason last October and sat out until after the All-Star break, missing more than four months and 58 games.

The bulk of the roster has been taking part in voluntary workouts for the past few weeks ahead of next week’s opening of training camp. Jackson’s been a limited participant, he said, and isn’t certain what, if any, restrictions will be placed on him during camp.

“I’m going day to day,” he said. “I don’t necessarily know. I’m going to come in and do what they tell me, what they allow me to do. I think the organization, our coaching staff and the training staff have a great game plan on when I’ll be back and how to implement myself back into the workouts.”

Jackson doesn’t anticipate feeling at a disadvantage because of the limitations he faced over the summer. If the ankle continues to respond well as he works his way back to full clearance, he’s confident he’ll hit his stride with relative speed.

“I don’t necessarily look at it as a setback. It was unfortunate,” he said. “I want to play, but we all get better in our own way. I had to challenge myself differently this summer. It was about getting healthy. Can’t touch a ball, but put up a million shots in my lifetime. I can countlessly work. They kind of even talked to me about toning it down because they felt it might be what led to injuries. Just trying to find a way to be smarter with the time I’m allotted on the court.”

That means making the most of the time he couldn’t be on the court, too, especially in furthering the critical coach-point guard connection.

“We’re constantly bouncing ideas,” Jackson said of his experience with Casey. “I think it’s healthy. Since being back, even with this week being around the guys, I think has been going well. I like where our relationship has been developing and I hope it continues to progress.”