Pistons send Montiejunas to see back specialist, but SVG gets some positive input
Bill Baptist (NBAE/Getty)
WASHINGTON – Tobias Harris will be in his new No. 34 uniform when the Pistons resume play coming out of the All-Star break tonight, but Donatas Motiejunas’ No. 9 will still be hanging in his locker.
Motiejunas, acquired along with Marcus Thornton from Houston to beat the Thursday trade deadline, was scheduled to meet with a back specialist in New York this afternoon. He suffered a herniated disc late last season and underwent surgery that kept him out until December. He’d most recently played three D-League games and Houston coach Bernie Bickerstaff Jr. spoke of the importance of integrating him back into the rotation as the Rockets prepared for their own playoff surge.
“Obviously, it’s real key to get that checked out,” Stan Van Gundy said after the morning shootaround at Verizon Center. “But we have an understanding. One of the guys that was with him in Houston – it’s a guy I know – likened it to what (J.J.) Redick had. Said there’ll be occasional flare-ups, which J.J. had a little bit this year. But for the most part, OK now. If that’s the case, you’re going to live with a guy having to miss three or four games every once in a while to get a guy of his talent.”
Van Gundy isn’t certain if Motiejunas and Thornton will be available Sunday when the Pistons next play, hosting New Orleans.
“You make these deals for the long term and then you try to make the short term as good as you can,” he said. “Seeing a back specialist today, so we’ll see where he’s at. Talking to him on the phone last night, he feels like he’s ready to go. He went down to the D-League, played games, practiced on Wednesday in Houston. He feels he’s ready to go.”
Marcus Morris thinks the Pistons got a significant infusion of talent with the Motiejunas trade and Tuesday’s with Orlando that netted them Tobias Harris.
“I think it’s really going to help us out,” he said. “Tobias and D-Mo and Marcus Thornton are really good players. Been in the league for a little while now, so they understand how everything works. Not too much you really have to teach them. I think they’re going to fit right in and make an immediate impact.”
Morris, Motiejunas, Harris and Reggie Jackson were all products of the 2011 draft, taken from 14th to 24th. Morris’ time in Houston overlapped with the first two-thirds of Motiejunas’ rookie year, 2012-13, before Morris was traded to Phoenix.
“He’s a good player,” Morris said of Motiejunas. “Go over either shoulder, right hand, left hand. He can stretch the floor. He can pass really well. He can move for his size. He’s really strong. You could just tell he was going to be a good player and development has come a long way. I think he’s really going to step in and be big for us.”