Beard: Will Derrick Rose injury throw wrench into Pistons' trade plans?
Detroit — With just a few days left before the NBA trade deadline, the Pistons appeared to be a team to watch, with several moveable assets.
Now, the Pistons will have to do some watching themselves.
Point guard Derrick Rose, who has been their most consistent player this season, left Sunday’s game because of left groin soreness. With the Pistons playing a back-to-back — they are in Memphis on Monday night — it’s unlikely that Rose will make the trip. What it means for his potential trade value — or whether the Pistons will deal him before the deadline — is unclear.
Rose, 31, had scored 20-plus points in his previous 14 games, the longest stretch of his career. He finished Sunday with two points in 13 minutes. There was no clear indication of when Rose incurred the injury, as he checked out for the final time with 4:08 remaining in the second quarter.
Among the other Pistons considered to be trade pieces, Andre Drummond had another good game, with 21 points and 17 rebounds, including 12 points in the fourth quarter and Reggie Jackson helped the surge in the fourth quarter and overtime, with the tying shot near the end of regulation and four points in overtime.
Speculation has cooled on potential Drummond trades since they reached their peak in early January, but there still seems to be a market for the league’s leading rebounder among teams that are looking to add a big man to gear up for a playoff run.
Whether the Pistons make sweeping changes before the deadline, the push seems to be toward playing their young core more, such as Sekou Doumbouya, who bounced back from not playing against the Raptors on Friday to sparking their first-half comeback Sunday with 17 points.
“That was the most important thing — finding live bodies to go in and play. It’s funny how energy, enthusiasm and passion and playing well will help,” coach Dwane Casey said. “It is a dangerous way to play and I credit our young guys.”
The Pistons (18-33) ended their five-game skid but still appear to be on the fringe of the playoff race. With a likely season-ending injury to Blake Griffin and the extended absence of Luke Kennard, they have fallen to 11th place in the Eastern Conference, four games behind the Orlando Magic for the final playoff spot.
They’re just as close to having the worst record in the East, just 4½ games ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Atlanta Hawks.
The Pistons will remain a team to watch this week, with games Monday and Wednesday at home against the Phoenix Suns. How they manage the roster with active and inactive players in those games could provide a glimpse into how close they might be to swinging a deal.
Casey said that he sat Doumbouya in Friday’s game to allow him to breathe a bit and collect himself. The move paid dividends and Doumbouya returned with energy and gusto, with an efficient 17 points in the first half.
The rookie seemed to be hitting a wall with fatigue and failed to make cuts to the basket and play with the same fire that had gotten him into the starting lineup. He came back with that on Sunday.
“I got on him the last couple of games about moving and cutting. I thought he got back to who he was with attacking the rim and running,” Casey said. “Running, playing hard, playing with enthusiasm and playing with passion is what he did, and I think he started (the run) with the second unit.”
Casey had insinuated that Doumbouya could make a return to the Grand Rapids Drive in the G-League to get more reps and to slow his game down. Judging by his game Sunday, that doesn’t seem necessary.
Doumbouya challenged Nuggets center Nikola Jokic and flashed through the paint and drew contact, as he did in his better games in January.