Pistons fans have been anxiously awaiting the return of Brandon Jennings since he went down with an Achilles injury last January, and it seems the rest of the League have been keeping tabs on the point guard's return. This week, the New York Post's Marc Berman listed Jennings as a potential Knicks trade target, stating that other teams were interested in the guard, but were waiting to see how he fared on the court. There has been a fair share of speculation regarding Jennings' role with the team now that Reggie Jackson has been handed the reigns of the franchise, but the California native has time and again assured that he will do what is best with the team, and will be chasing the Sixth Man of the Year award upon his return.
Stan Van Gundy was quick to dismiss Berman's claims that Jennings is on the trade block, explaining to Pistons.com's Keith Langlois and MLive's David Mayo that as far as he is concerned, the 26-year-old guard is as available as anyone else on the roster. Motown's head coach and director of basketball operations also opened up on the team's stance for the upcoming trade deadline, telling Langlois that he is perfectly content with standing pat at the deadline and let the team work through its growing pains.
"I don't feel compelled to do anything right now," he said. "I like our group. Our group is good. We've got reasonable contracts. We've got a starting lineup that we have everybody back next year and it's proven to be one of the most efficient starting lineups in the league that's good to build around. And if we can augment that, we would look to do it. But we like the guys we have right now. I like everything about us."
Many Piston fans may have seen this coming, while others could be disappointed that the team won't be actively looking to offload some of its under-performing players and expiring contracts. SVG has finally put together his own Pistons team after inheriting Joe Dumars' roster in 2015, signing the likes of Jodie Meeks, Aron Baynes and trading for Joel Anthony, Anthony Tolliver, Reggie Jackson, Ersan Ilyasova, Marcus Morris, Reggie Bullock and Steve Blake. Even though some of the signings have floundered, either due to poor performance (Cartier Martin, Shawne Williams) or injury (Meeks), the squad hasn't been together long enough to unlock their entire potential.
The Pistons' .500 record is certainly a breath of fresh air after the team's poor performances over the past few years, but as DBB's realdevinjones puts it:
Would it be great if the Pistons were sitting way above .500 going into 2016? Sure. But again, we have to temper expectations back to our preseason form, even though this team and its budding stars and superstars have shown flashes of brilliance. The team itself is still very young, very inexperienced and very new to one another. You see teams like the Warriors and the Spurs who bring it every single night consistently, playing with flow and poise. But those teams have veterans who have played championship level basketball as a cohesive unit. It's almost as if male-pattern baldness is a physical metaphor for when a team is ready to make that leap. The Pistons' top three scorers are all under 26, probably have never owned a cassette tape and haven't logged one playoff minute together.
It seems Stan Van Gundy agrees, per Langlois:
"You've got to balance trying to get better (through trades) but building some continuity, too," Van Gundy said. "If you look at the Memphis and the Clipper games" - two agonizing losses over the past week - "are good examples."
Van Gundy ticked off the players Memphis had on the floor - Mike Conley, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, Courtney Lee, Jeff Green. He did the same exercise with the Clippers - J.J. Redick, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan.
"Those guys have all been together. There's value in that. That Warrior team grew over time and there's value in that. You have to weigh that any time you make a move. I think we're now with the kind of people we want. Not that we don't need to continue to build the talent base, but a big part of that is, let's keep this group together and keep them growing. And I think we're on the right path. I really do."
Hear that, NBA? We're keeping Brandon. We're going to keep going through our growing pains, and you better be prepared when this team finally starts firing on all cylinders, because we're here to stay! An era is about to begin in Detroit Basketball. And it could come as early as Tuesday, Dec. 22 in Miami.