Clarence Tabb, Jr. / The Detroit News)
Auburn Hills — Maurice Cheeks’ quandary of having five capable guards but only wanting to play four somewhat straightened itself out. But he didn't expect it to come in the form of Rodney Stuckey fracturing his right thumb.
The team announced before Thursday's game against the Miami Heat that Stuckey suffered the injury Wednesday after practice by jamming his thumb in his car door.
He'll undergo surgery Friday and no timeline has been determined for his return — but one can expect him to miss at least a month or so.
Next up? Mr. Dependable, Kyle Singler, who already was having a pretty good training camp to this point.
Singler started in Stuckey's place in the Pistons' 112-107 loss to the Miami Heat at the Palace, in front of a better-than-expected crowd of 17,219.
Cheeks didn't seem to be too concerned about starting Singler before the game. After all, Singler played shooting guard last season but is more of a small forward.
"It gives us a lot of length," Cheeks said. "I just know wherever I put him, he'll give me what he's got."
Cheeks compared Singler favorably to one of his old teammates in Philadelphia, all-around utility man Bobby Jones.
"Kyle can play with you four out there (laughs). You're never disappointed in his effort," Cheeks said.
Stuckey's absence wasn't announced until just before game time, so perhaps Cheeks' glowing endorsement of Singler had a little to do with the possible necessity of the situation.
Also a necessity was Will Bynum, who had to play 46 minutes in the absence of Stuckey, Brandon Jennings (wisdom tooth discomfort) and Chauncey Billups, who took the night off.
Bynum probably didn't mind, as he scored 28 points and added six assists. And if Josh Harrellson's leaning, potential game-tying three-pointer didn't rim in, out, in and back out again, he would've played in excess of 50 minutes — unheard of for a preseason game.
Andre Drummond led the Pistons overall with 21 points and 11 rebounds in 29 minutes, while Jonas Jerebko had 10 points and 12 rebounds in 33 minutes.
Chris Bosh led the Heat with 28 points in 25 minutes. LeBron James only took four shots in 23 minutes, scoring nine points and adding seven assists.
Making a Detroit presence
Pistons owner Tom Gores was in attendance for Thursday's game, with his wife Holly and three kids.
He said his presence, even for a preseason game, is by design.
"You'll see a lot more of me," Gores said at halftime.
Gores has drawn criticism from observers for not being as visible during his stewardship but believes the team and its fans need to see him more, especially during a season with such high expectations relative to the past two seasons.
He reiterated again that he expects the Pistons to make the playoffs this season, and said he was very satisfied with the offseason acquisitions of Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings, with new faces overall and the hiring of Cheeks as head coach.
Platinum Equity also announced it made a sizeable donation to the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, a charter school headed up by the former Michigan star on the west side of Detroit.
Establishing some type of foothold in the city appears to be important to Gores, as they will make an annual donation as well as help Rose with fundraising efforts.