Reggie Jackson, like many Pistons fans, was ecstatic at the news that he had been traded to Detroit for Kyle Singler, D.J. Augustin and a pair of second round picks; others were wary of the addition of the point guard and what his arrival meant for the injured Brandon Jennings and the Pistons future in general. Stan Van Gundy was the first to assure the fanbase that the presence of Jackson in the Pistons' gym doesn't mean Detroit is willing to part with Jennings, despite him dubbing Reggie as "his point guard".
The situation is cruel enough for Jennings, who performed at All-Star levels before rupturing his Achilles in January, and the added speculation around his career in Motown surely won't help with the mental aspect of his rehabilitation, but nonetheless, Van Gundy has made it a point of emphasis that the writing isn't on the wall for Brandon.
Although SVG has lauded Jennings' strong play throughout the season, and admired his determination in rehabbing his injury and staying involved with the team despite it, he did admit that Brandon's injury status did weigh on their minds as they considered trading for Jackson. An Achilles tear is a significant injury for basketball players to come back from. For example, the Celtics' Jonas Jerebko suffered such an injury in Detroit in 2010 and only started to look like his old self this season. The twilight years of Chauncey Billups' career were derailed by a series of injuries, with a ruptured Achilles robbing him of whatever quickness and explosiveness he had left. There is definitely hope for a player like Jennings to come back and still be able to contribute full-time to the Pistons, but there is no telling how the injury will affect his speed and athleticism.
Whether or not the Pistons floor-general comes back in good form, his contract is up after next year, so Stan Van Gundy wanted for more of a long-term option. Van Gundy was very open on that front, per Pistons.com Keith Langlois:
"We wouldn't have made the move we did if we didn't feel ready to make it a long-term commitment," Van Gundy said Friday. "There's no guarantees. He's a (restricted free agent). We know we can keep him through next year no matter what he does, but we feel good about making a long-term commitment to him and hopefully he'll feel real comfortable making a long-term commitment here and we'll get it done.We've got a chance to put together a really solid young core and continue to develop them. You've got to have some patience, but I'm not all that patient, so hopefully it will come together sooner. But you do see a window there and it's not a short window. It's not a two- or three-year window."
Of course, the Pistons could be looking to replicate a Phoenix Suns model, with two explosive point guards playing off each other, or, could have a rotation consisting of Jackson, Jennings and Dinwiddie at the point. There are many possible outcomes that don't involve getting rid of Brandon, but the question remains whether or not he would be willing to give up his starting position, and how not only his injury, but Reggie's arrival has affected him mentally.
Jennings definitely grew as a player and leader in Detroit, he led the team to some of the best basketball since the Going to Work Pistons, and re-infused some hope and success into a deflated fanbase. It wouldn't be a stretch to imagine that the new Brandon Jennings would give up his own glory to benefit the team, but there is no saying whether he, or the Pistons make a move that could see him in another uniform, with SVG non-committal on whether additional point-guard moves will take place over the offseason. One thing is for sure, Reggie Jackson is Van Gundy's point guard of the future; it just remains to be seen whether or not Brandon Jennings is a part of that future.
UDPATE: What does Reggie Jackson think? He expects Jennings to come back and compete (via Detroit News):
"There is competition," Jackson said with a smile. "Basketball is our livelihood and that is what you are out here to do is compete. If he did not fight me I would be disappointed, just like I will fight him to make him the best he can be. It is all about competition and leaving it out on the practice floor and the court and leaving here knowing we love each other and we have the same goals."
Jackson said he planned on talking to Jennings following his media session and wants to create a bond with him.
"We talked a little bit during the game," Jackson said. "It is tragic what happened with him. Hopefully we can have a great bond like with the rest of my teammates. It is about getting the Pistons back on track to do special things, get accustomed to winning and grinding it out and being on top of the sports world."