Pistons short-handed as newcomers not available Friday

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Washington, D.C. — The Pistons won’t be at full strength tonight when they face the Washington Wizards in their first game after the All-Star break.

After acquiring Donatas Motiejunas and Marcus Thornton in a deal with the Houston Rockets on Thursday night, neither will play. Coach Stan Van Gundy is hopeful that they’d be available for Sunday’s matchup against the New Orleans Pelicans at The Palace.

Neither Motiejunas and Thornton has completed a physical.

Motiejunas was in New York to be examined by a back specialist so the Pistons could get a better understanding of how serious his injuries are. Motiejunas had back surgery last year and has played in just 14 games this season.

“We’re getting him to a back specialist this afternoon. Obviously, it’s really key to get that checked out,” Van Gundy said Friday morning. “We have an understanding — one of the guys that was with him in Houston has likened it to what J.J. Redick had.

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“He said there would be occasional flare-ups, which J.J. had a little bit this year, but for the most part, OK. If that’s the case, then you’re going to live with a guy having to miss three or four games every once in a while to get a guy of his talent.”

As he’s rehabbed, though, Motiejunas seems to have worked his way back. Van Gundy said Motiejunas practiced with the Rockets on Wednesday and told The Houston Chronicle Thursday that he was 100 percent and ready to play.

He’s played some in the D-League this year, but it’s unclear how much he might be able to help the Pistons this season.

With Motiejunas and Thornton not available, the Pistons still will have their core, with Steve Blake moving into the role as backup point guard.

Newly acquired forward Tobias Harris won’t start on Friday night, as Van Gundy said he’s trying to ease him into the lineup to get acclimated to the offensive and defensive schemes.

Tobias Harris is not expected to start for the Pistons against the Wizards Friday.