Recalled guard Khyri Thomas likely to see minutes in Pistons' youth movement
Denver — It’s been a waiting game all season for Khyri Thomas.
Waiting and watching. Watching and waiting. And rehabbing.
After breaking a toe on his right foot in the second week of the season, Thomas has been sidelined and recovering, awaiting the opportunity to get back into the lineup. He played in just two games and has logged about six minutes of playing time, but that could change after Thomas had two rehab games with the Grand Rapids Drive in the past week.
He’s ready to return to the Pistons and in the midst of the rebuild and focus on young players, he could work his way into the playing rotation during the Pistons’ western road trip.
“We’ll find some time for him in one of these three games here on the road just to see where he is,” coach Dwane Casey said. “He had one game and one so-so game in Grand Rapids, so we want to find him some time, as we do all our young guys.”
Thomas, in his second season with the Pistons, had 27 points on Friday in his first game back with the Drive but needed 26 shots, including missing his first eight, to get there. It was a case of getting his wind back and getting re-accustomed to the speed of the game and to playing in a game setting again.
“Oh, it was more getting get the rhythm. (It was) 0-for-8 at first and then by halftime, 5-for-18, but I kept shooting it,” Thomas said. “I wanted to get the rust out and get my legs under me. I was a little winded; I hadn't played a game in a long time.”
The second game with the Drive didn’t go as well, with Thomas going 2-for-13 for just seven points. The big takeaway was getting back into a good groove and getting back to playing regularly after the long layoff.
Thomas joins a crowded backcourt group, with Derrick Rose and Svi Mykhailiuk starting the past couple of games, along with Bruce Brown, Langston Galloway and Luke Kennard, who could return soon.
There’s no immediate rush to just push Thomas back into the lineup, but as the Pistons are entering their youth movement, there will be minutes in the final few weeks of the season for all of the young players to be assessed.
The timing is right for Thomas to return and to get a good shot, but he’ll have some catching up to do.
“I want to be a part of it, as part of the process with them growing and getting that chemistry with each other,” Thomas said. “Now that I'm back and ready to go, hopefully everything works out.”
Injuries limited Thomas last season as a rookie when he was looking to join the rotation. The lasting impression, though, is that he can fit in with what the Pistons want if he can stay on the floor.
“He's a shooter. The problem with Khyri is he just hasn’t had an opportunity. He was playing before Bruce and then he got hurt and Bruce never gave his spot back last year,” Casey said. “It's him just getting an opportunity, finding time for him. Right now, there is a lot of competition. We’ve got Svi and Bruce, so we’ve got the market cornered on those mid-range guys.
“We just need to see who he is in the NBA; we know what he is in the G League, but he’s still a mystery.”
Kennard nears return
Kennard, who has been out since late December because of knee tendinitis, could be closing in on a return to the lineup. He made the trip to Denver and did some light shooting drills following shootaround on Tuesday.
Casey indicated that the timeline for Kennard’s return is getting closer and that he could be playing again during the next home stand.
“Hopefully, it’s one of the days when we get back after this trip,” Casey said Tuesday.
That could be March 4 against the Oklahoma City Thunder or March 7 against the Utah Jazz.
Kennard last played on Dec. 21 and has missed the last 30 games.