New Pistons Motiejunas, Thornton remain on hold
Auburn Hills — Donatas Motiejunas and Marcus Thornton have been Pistons for three days but haven’t played in a game yet.
Whether they ever will don a Pistons jersey still is in question.
After the Pistons acquired them in Thursday’s trade with the Rockets — sending reserve center Joel Anthony and a protected first-round pick to Houston — they still haven’t completed their medical evaluations for Motiejunas.
Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said Sunday that the Pistons had a 72-hour window to complete medical evaluations for all players involved in the trade. None has played or practiced since the trade was announced.
Motiejunas, a 7-foot forward, has concerns about his back after surgery last year and has played in just 14 games this season as he’s recovered. He has played in the D-League and practiced with the Rockets on Wednesday; he hasn’t played in an NBA game since Dec. 31.
The Pistons had back specialists in New York examine Motiejunas on Friday and doctors at the Detroit Medical Center are reviewing his records to determine his status.
If the Pistons don’t like what their team doctors and the specialists find, they could void the trade, sending all of the players back to their original teams.
“You can ask for an extension to go over medical information and we’ve got a lot of doctors involved, so we need more time,” Van Gundy said.
Sunday night was the original deadline and Van Gundy said the Pistons requested and received a 24-hour extension because of the complexities of reviewing Motiejunas’ records. The new deadline is 6 p.m. Monday.
Asked about the chances that the trade could be voided, Van Gundy left open the possibility.
“We’ll see,” he said. “If they don’t give us more time, we’d have to make a decision.”
Before Friday’s game at Washington, Van Gundy seemed comfortable with taking some risk with the trade and that Motiejunas’ back might not be 100 percent.
Motiejunas will be a restricted free agent after this season, meaning the Pistons could match any offer. But if the Pistons accept the trade and his back doesn’t check out as being healthy, things could get dicey.
For the third straight game, the Pistons were short-handed, playing without Motiejunas and Thornton (physicals), Jodie Meeks (foot fracture) and Spencer Dinwiddie (ankle).
Add Anthony Tolliver to that injured list. Tolliver has a right knee strain, suffered in the first quarter after colliding with Andre Drummond going for a loose rebound. That leaves the Pistons with only 10 healthy players, pending the outcome of the physicals, going into a back-to-back against the Cavaliers.
Van Gundy said that Tolliver would have an MRI on the knee on Sunday night and was unsure whether Tolliver would travel with the team to Cleveland.
Tolliver’s loss means that the Pistons primarily will use Marcus Morris and Tobias Harris at power forward and likely will press rookies Stanley Johnson and Darrun Hilliard into more playing time on the wing.
Harris likes reception
Harris made his debut at The Palace, after playing his first game as a Piston on Friday at Washington. The Palace fans received him with a rousing ovation — which he said he noticed and appreciated.
After scoring 21 points against the Wizards, he followed with 16 points on Sunday and is starting to get more comfortable in learning the schemes.
“I’m just trying to continue to get a rhythm, continue to learn from the other guys, continue to find my spots out there in the offense and continue to execute my role out there,” Harris said.
Pistons at Cavaliers
Tip-off: 7 p.m. Monday, Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland
Outlook: The Pistons have lost five straight and have fallen out of playoff position in the Eastern Conference. They embark on a critical stretch, with eight of their next 11 games on the road.