Stan Van Gundy said he didn't want to get into publicly evaluating his Detroit Pistons players before they even had a chance to work together, but the glib new president of basketball operations and head coach couldn't help himself when asked specifically about two of the more polarizing Pistons, Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings. Van Gundy endorsed Smith, with the caveat that he has to be in the right role, which was an open question during the veteran forward's first year with the Pistons. Same with Jennings -- as long as his shot selection improves. "The questions are his decision-making ability -- not so much that he's a high-turnover guy, but it's his shooting percentage you get concerned about," Van Gundy said at his introductory press conference Thursday. "One of the things I like to do with guys in terms of shooting percentage is ask them why. Why 37 percent? I want to hear the answer on that. But I know he's a very, very talented guy." The Pistons have several decisions on free agents this summer, most notably on Greg Monroe, though the team could have about $22 million in cap space after the decision on Monroe is finalized and his cap hold is lifted. Van Gundy also has Rodney Stuckey's free agency to consider, if there is mutual interest between the Pistons and their veteran guard. Equally vital is incorporating Jennings and Smith, who have two and three years remaining on their contracts, respectively, and whose first year here bombed in a second consecutive 29-53 season. Van Gundy hinted that he believes the Pistons' outsized lineup, with Smith playing extensively at small forward last year, hurt both the team and player. "I think there's some talented guys that maybe in different positions, different roles, can play a lot better than they did," Van Gundy said. More pointedly, when it comes to Smith's multi-faceted game, "it's just a matter of putting him in the right spots and getting him to buy into that and believe that you're going to do that," Van Gundy said. "I've heard the negatives on Josh and I don't buy them," Van Gundy added. "I think he's a hell of a basketball player and it's my responsibility to help him to be able to show that on a nightly basis." Jennings last year was openly troubled by the Pistons' midseason firing of former coach Maurice Cheeks.
Josh Smith, Brandon Jennings could fit Pistons' ongoing plans
Michigan Live | May 17