Jennings open to D-League stint as he nears return: ‘I just want to play’

Three-year veterans must consent to a trip to the D-League. Brandon Jennings is on board.

“I just want to play,” Jennings said after the Pistons’ shootaround today with Boston coming to The Palace tonight. “I just want to get out there and hoop and see where it’s at.”

Stan Van Gundy says Jennings needs something the Pistons have found it difficult to provide lately – ample practice time – and thinks a D-League stint could be the ticket. But he says he hasn’t yet discussed a Saturday debut – the Drive host Iowa – specifically with Jennings.

“He and I talked a few days ago about the possibility in general of playing D-League games if he wants to – because it’s his choice,” Van Gundy said. “But that was the last discussion we had. He hasn’t said anything to me (about playing Saturday in Grand Rapids).”

The biggest remaining hurdle in Van Gundy’s mind is for Jennings to show a little more of the burst that made him the scorer he was.

“He’s got to get back closer, at least, to his normal quickness,” he said. “He’s getting better. He’s still got a ways to go, though. Not a long ways to go, but a ways. What he really needs is to get more up and down playing and it’s been really hard. We’ve played so many games in so few days. Like yesterday, we got him 15 minutes of up and down, but we can’t – because of the other guys – get him an hour. He really needs to get more full-court stuff than we’ve been able to get him so far.”

Jennings said he’s conscious of his quickness level when he’s playing one on one or doing drills and thinks about it, but not when he’s playing in situations that approximate a game.

“When I’m playing five on five, it is,” he said when asked if his change-of-direction ability is where it needs to be. “When I’m not, it’s like I still go to a move where I’m like, ‘I don’t know if I can do it or not.’ But when I’m playing, it’s just a reaction.”

Jennings has a clear idea of how he’ll be able to help the Pistons after watching the first 26 games from the back bench.

“Definitely just bring a lot of energy off the bench. Right now in the NBA, bench help is really lacking this year. Our starters do a really good job keeping us in the game. They’re doing all they can, so I think with my energy and me coming back, I think I’ll be able to help.”

If he gets a D-League run in on Saturday and it goes well, Jennings could be back in uniform as early as Tuesday when the Pistons play at Miami.

“I’m 26. Everybody says it’s a career-ending injury,” he said. “I definitely don’t believe that. I’m just excited to get back.”