Pistons' Caldwell-Pope OK, will play in opener

Rod Beard
The Detroit News
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope checks Charlotte's Nicolas Batum before being injured Wednesday night.

Auburn Hills — Throughout the exhibition schedule, injuries have been a bugaboo for the Pistons.

On Thursday, they dodged a big injury when an MRI showed shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had only a strain in his left foot.

Caldwell-Pope suffered the injury during the first quarter of the loss to the Hornets on Wednesday at The Palace, but coach Stan Van Gundy confirmed it won’t keep Caldwell-Pope out for an extended period.

“It’s nothing long-term; he’ll be back probably in practice on the weekend but he’ll be back for Tuesday (the opener at Atlanta) for sure,” Van Gundy said.

“(It’s) a bone bruise and a little sprain.”

After the injury, Caldwell-Pope had X-rays, which were negative, and he didn’t return to the game. He missed practice Thursday and won’t play in tonight’s exhibition finale against the Hawks. .

It’s the latest in a rash of injuries that caused Steve Blake (concussion), Aron Baynes (ankle) and Reggie Jackson (Achilles) to miss time during the exhibition schedule, along with Cartier Martin (hand), Adonis Thomas (Achilles) and Brandon Jennings (Achilles).

Blake will play Friday

The Pistons will get another guard back after Blake passed all the concussion protocols and practiced. The plan was to have Blake ready Friday.

Blake was hurt during camp when he hit his head on the court. He spent a couple of weeks away from the team going through the mandated recovery protocol. A setback made him miss additional time.

“It wasn’t a great practice, but he did it and he will play (tonight),” Van Gundy said. “I’d like to get him 20-24 minutes, but we’ll see. He hasn’t played in quite a while; he’ll push through it, but we’ll see how long he goes.”

With only one exhibition remaining, Blake will have to get up to speed quickly. Van Gundy is comfortable that Blake, acquired during the offseason, will be able to pick up the schemes quickly and contribute.

“He doesn’t have any problems; he’s a smart guy and he’s seen it all and knows what’s going on,” Van Gundy said.

Seeing a lot of Hawks

In a scheduling oddity, the Pistons play the Hawks twice in a makeshift home-and-home series, splitting the end of the exhibition schedule and start of the regular season.

It’s not ideal, but Van Gundy isn’t sweating it.

“It’s sort of weird,” he said. “(Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer) and I would tell you we’d rather not do that. It is what it is.”