Van Gundy: Acquiring Jackson is ‘building move’
AUBURN HIILS — Stan Van Gundy made things crystal clear Friday night.
The Detroit Pistons plan for Reggie Jackson to be their point guard for the rest of this season and for several years after that.
"This is a building move," Van Gundy said before Friday’s win over the Bulls. "This is about the future, and we’re anxious to start working on that, even if it isn’t the best possible thing in the short term."
Like they did last summer by making Van Gundy both the coach and team president, the Pistons are giving Jackson the opportunity that he has always wanted — the chance to run a team.
"This is the opportunity that I’ve always wanted," Jackson said after the game. "Now I have to take advantage of it."
Jackson was so excited about the trade that he burst into tears when Van Gundy informed him that he was now the point guard of Detroit’s future. That meant an escape from a bad situation in Oklahoma City, where Jackson was behind Russell Westbrook and losing minutes to Dion Waiters.
"Those were tears of joy," he said. "I never really fit in Oklahoma City, and I don’t people understood how hard I worked to try to make it fit. Now I have a fresh start with a great coach and a great bunch of teammates.
"I can’t even tell you how happy I am."
Because of the logisitics of a three-team trade that involved players all over the country, Jackson wasn’t cleared to play against the Bulls, but that didn’t stop him from enjoying the win. He was so excited that at one point, he found himself on the floor celebrating a 3-pointer while the game was still going on, and he was often the first player to congratulate teammates after a time out.
"I was watching the way these guys play, and I love it," he said. "We’ve got big guys who can bang inside, we’ve got shooters and we’ve got a bunch of guys who hustle and play hard. This is going to be great."
Van Gundy acknowledged that Jackson has flaws in his game — he’s a career 29% 3-point shooter and he doesn’t get to the free-throw line as often as many scoring point guards — but that doesn’t worry the coach/team president.
"He’s not perfect across the board when it comes to analytics, but not many guys are," Van Gundy said. "Derrick Rose is under 30 percent on threes, and he’s still a pretty good player. Rajon Rondo doesn’t get to the line and doesn’t hit threes, but he’s got a ring."
Besides, there are plenty of things Jackson can do.
"He’s a guy who can get to the basket, he can pass the ball and he’s got a nice mid-range shot," Van Gundy said. "Plus he’s only 24 and he’s got a very good shooting stroke, so we think the 3-pointers will come."
Van Gundy’s not going to waste any time seeing what Jackson can do, nor will Tayshaun Prince get a break even though he won’t arrive until Saturday night.
"Reggie’s going to start on Sunday, and Tayshaun will be available," Van Gundy confirmed. "The guys have tomorrow off, but we’re going to bring them in for a short practice just so Reggie can work with them. Tayshaun won’t even get here in time for that, and with an afternoon game on Sunday, all he will get is a quick walkthrough in the morning."
Is that ideal? Of course not, but Van Gundy wants to find out as quickly as possible how his new players fit best into his lineup.
And for Jackson, it is the start of his dream.
"This is my chance," he repeated in the Pistons locker room, beaming from ear to ear. "This is what I’ve always wanted."