Six years into his NBA career, Jonas Jerebko has gone through more roster changes and coaches on the same team than most players experience in their whole career. He shined his rookie year under Kuester, earning All Rookie Second-Team honors, but was lost to an Achilles tear during the pre-season of what should have been his sophomore year.
JJ returned in 2011-2012, when Lawrence Frank was appointed the Pistons' new head coach, and he emulated his rookie season, however, after one season under Frank, Jerebko found his minutes reduced and glued to the bench. His frustration about his lack of playing time was palpable, and led to this quote from his father:
"Detroit's coach is a square type and hopefully he is not there next year"
More prophetic words had never been spoken, as Maurice Cheeks was brought in to right the ship in 2013-2014, and despite early interest in the Swedish product, Jerebko's third NBA head coach again buried him on the bench. Jerebko played the fewest minutes of his career under Cheeks and even when Cheeks was dismissed mid-season and replaced by John Loyer Jerebko remained on the pine.
After another disappointing season in Pistons blue, Jerebko picked up his player option worth $4.5 Million, and hoped that his next coach would play him consistent minutes. Now halfway into his contract year, Jonas is in the midst of his best season since his rookie season, and he has Stan Van Gundy to thank for it. Although the 6'10" forward has every right to leave the Pistons after his roller-coaster experiences with the team, he is fully committed to Detroit right now. Per Basketball Insiders' Lang Greene:
"I'm in the NBA. That's it. I'm not even considering going overseas right now. The NBA is where I want to be [...] Every year in the league has been up and down for me," Jerebko readily admits. "But I'm trying to approach it the same way. I'm just trying to work hard and give it 100 percent every time I have a chance to get on the court. Now, it's starting to pay off [...] right now I'm 100 percent concentrating on Detroit and our season here, trying to make the best out of this situation. The summer is the summer and I'll evaluate [free agency] when it comes, you know."
Jonas has flourished in Van Gundy's system, despite Anthony Tolliver's arrival and his rumoured position on the trade block. The Swedish stretch-four keeps a positive attitude, energy and readiness to play that has endeared him to the fans. Despite his poor treatment in Detroit over the past few years, Jerebko has been a consummate professional, and with free agency looming, he will have the opportunity to evaluate his options and decide whether to leave the only team he has known in the NBA, or join another squad willing to use his skillset consistently.
I, for one, hope to see the Piston 33 back on the court next year.
What do you think?