Meeks 'looking forward to the challenge' with Pistons

 

Detroit Free Press

Escorted by president of basketball operations and coach Stan Van Gundy and general manager Jeff Bower an hour before his initial news conference today, Jodie Meeks was touring the lay of his new land.

Meeks, a shooting guard who signed a three-year deal worth around $19.5 million, comes to Detroit with a shooting arm locked and loaded.

Last season with the Los Angeles Lakers, he had a career year, averaging 15.7 points while shooting 46.3 percent from the field and 40.1 percent from three-point range, which would have been tops among all Pistons guards a year ago.

On Jan. 13, 2009, he gained national attention by scoring 54 points for the University of Kentucky in an ESPN game against Tennessee. He also set the school's single-game record for three-pointers with 10 while averaging 23.7 points per game. Meeks, 26, was drafted by Milwaukee in the second round in 2009.

"We're really excited," Van Gundy said. "Obviously, our first signing as a new management group. We went into the offseason knowing first and foremost that we needed to get help at the wing positions. What we were looking for was high-character, hard-playing, energetic people who could shoot the ball.

"Jodie can tell you we were very aggressive going after him from the get-go on July 1."

That and the fact that the Pistons needed wing help were factors for Meeks.

"I work hard every day and I'm looking forward to the challenge," Meeks said. "The Pistons were very aggressive from Day 1 and that's what I was looking for, to come in and compete for a starting job. They said I was their No. 1 priority and to just come in and play well."

Meeks took advantage of Kobe Bryant's absence due to injury and put together a solid year, gaining Van Gundy's attention.

"That was a big thing for me," Meeks said. "Coming into the season I was pretty much known as just a spot-up shooter. It was unfortunate for Kobe, but fortunate for me that I got to expand my game. I got a chance to run some point guard and really show people what I could do. I'm not just a spot-up shooter, I'm a scorer."

Meeks and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope appear to be the top contenders for the starting shooting guard spot.

"I like competition," Meeks said. That kind of stuff just makes me play well. We're on the same team. It's not like we're enemies. Regardless of the situation I'm going to root for him, and I hope he roots for me. This is a family environment. Coach explained that. It's going to be a loving and caring environment, but at the same time he's going to get on us and he wants us to succeed and play well."

Van Gundy is expected to announce the signings of point guard D.J. Augustin and veteran swingman Caron Butler at a news conference Tuesday.

He said the point guard glut - Brandon Jennings, rookie Spencer Dinwiddie, Augustin and Will Bynum - would be addressed once Augustin and Butler were officially in the fold.

"I think when you go into the off-season with a fairly limited amount of money and you're able to address that many needs at that many positions, it's something that I'm really happy about," Van Gundy said.

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