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SVG feels Jennings is ready to go, but Blake’s play makes the timing a tough call

It’s a nice problem to have, but a problem nonetheless.

Brandon Jennings is ready to play now – Stan Van Gundy is comfortable with that after seeing clear evidence of progress with his lateral movement – but backup point guard minutes might be the least pressing issue facing the Pistons these days, so well has Steve Blake been playing.

“It’s a tough thing to weigh,” Van Gundy admitted after Monday’s practice. “It’s a dilemma a little bit. But Brandon has looked good.”

One thing that won’t be a complicating factor: Blake’s reaction if and when Jennings is elevated over him to the backup spot behind Reggie Jackson. For that, credit Blake’s professionalism and Van Gundy’s honesty and sense of communications skills.

“That was an understanding of mine coming here,” Blake said. “Coach Van Gundy and I talked about that. There will be times when I’m playing well while he’s injured. When he comes back, the chance of me going to the bench and him playing at some point was an understanding of mine. He’s working his way back to where he wants to be and when that time comes, that’s fine with me. It’s a team thing. I don’t see it as him and I as competition. We’re teammates playing against other people, so when that time comes, that’s totally fine with me.”

Blake is averaging 5.8 points and 3.1 assists in 13 December games while shooting .457 from the 3-point line in 17 minutes a game, giving Jackson the rest that allows him to sustain the burden of not only running the offense but attacking on a majority of possessions when he’s in the game.

The times Jackson sat over the first few weeks of the season tended to be adventurous with Blake feeling the effects of missing three weeks of training camp and all but the preseason finale while dealing with the effects of a concussion suffered on the second day of camp. Concussion protocol not only removed Blake from the team but prevented him from doing anything to maintain his conditioning level, as well.

“Missing those few weeks earlier in the year set me back more than I even realized,” Blake said. “It took me a while to not only get myself skill-wise back to where I wanted to be but also comfort-wise with the offense and playing with guys and understanding of concepts. Now I can just play and react instead of thinking things over.”

Not coincidentally, the Pistons second unit has played significantly better as Blake’s play stabilized. The bench dug the Pistons out of an 18-point hole at Miami last week to win by a point.

“Steve’s been playing well and our bench has actually been good the last three games,” Van Gundy said. “It’s a matter of timing and when we want to go to (Jennings), but he’s ready to go now. He’s done everything for the last couple of weeks. Everything we’ve done, he’s done.”

There was no decision to be made for Van Gundy at the beginning of that stretch, though, because Jennings struggled to get over screens and stay in front of his man defensively. But that’s no longer the case, he said.

“He’s definitely made progress in the last couple of days. He’s moving a lot better. (The last two days of practice) helped him. He was able to get up and down the court and play, play with our guys and in our system. It was good for him and he looked good.”

It’s possible to add Jennings to the rotation, which Van Gundy cut from 10 to nine a few weeks into the season when Reggie Bullock couldn’t match his impressive preseason production. But it’s not the way Van Gundy is leaning at the moment given the defensive issues that could result from playing two point guards simultaneously.

“We could play them together some,” he said, “but I don’t anticipate a lot of that.”

As for the remaining injured backcourt member, Jodie Meeks, progress on that front, too.

“He’s progressing along. He doesn’t have the (walking) boot on all the time and he’s able to do some running on the treadmill – not quite at full body weight, but he’s able to start doing some stuff,” Van Gundy said. The timetable remains around the All-Star break – “a little before, a little after,” Van Gundy said.

The original timetable for Meeks, who suffered a fractured fifth metatarsal of his right foot, was 12 to 16 weeks. It will be nine weeks since the surgery was performed on Thursday and the 15-week mark will be hit just as the All-Star break begins on Feb. 11.

Meeks’ return probably won’t present Van Gundy with the same issues. He can be incorporated into the rotation at his normal spot with the only direct effect begin a reduction minutes spread across Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Marcus Morris – currently third and fourth in the NBA at 37.5 and 36.8 – and Stanley Johnson. Folding Jennings into the rotation holds the potential to disrupt the chemistry of a second unit that’s only recently hit its stride and that makes it a very tough call at this point.