Cade Cunningham likely to miss Pistons' preseason opener
Detroit — The news isn’t getting any better about Pistons rookie Cade Cunningham’s ailing ankle.
Cunningham, who has been limited for most of training camp because of a twisted ankle he suffered this week, likely won’t play in Wednesday’s preseason opener at Little Caesars Arena against the San Antonio Spurs.
Coach Dwane Casey said Cunningham’s condition hasn’t improved and his probability for playing doesn’t look good.
“It's about the same. He still has some fluid on his ankle and we're going to be cautious,” Casey said. “It's disappointing, just because of the fact that this time was really to integrate him and get him going, and he's missed a lot of time.
“No matter how many miles you ride on that (stationary) bike or you're on the sideline or in the pool, it doesn't duplicate being on the court, getting the reps. I feel for the young man because he wants to be out there, but his body's not letting him.”
Casey’s assessment isn’t an official medical determination, though. However, it makes sense that Cunningham wouldn’t play without some time on the court to get back up to speed and to prepare his body for what he’ll see at game speed.
“I would say close to (declaring him out). Nobody's told me that but if he couldn't go today, I don't see him miraculously coming around and being ready to go tomorrow,” Casey said. “He's going to need two or three practices under his belt before he's ready to roll.”
Cunningham has been participating in light shooting drills since the injury and hasn’t been wearing a visible brace, but the Pistons seem to be very cautious not to take the injury lightly and make it worse by playing Cunningham before he’s fully healed.
In the interim, the No. 1 pick is missing valuable time to build chemistry and developing his game in preseason reps.
“Hopefully, his basketball IQ will help him come back quicker,” Casey said. “Like I told everybody, the best ability for this group is availability. So he's working hard to get back in, and everybody that's got nicks and bruises and not injured, they've got to really work because we've got some quality people in front of them, and the availability part is going to be important.”
Cunningham isn’t the only injury to be concerned about. Guard Frank Jackson, who projected to be the shooting guard for the second unit, has a sprained ankle and likely won’t play on Wednesday, either.
That opens some playing time for Hamidou Diallo, Josh Jackson and Rodney McGruder to fill the void.
“I would say it's probably the same thing with Frank, just to make sure that those guys are ready and healthy,” Casey said. “We had a grueling week, but yet and still I know all the X-rays are clean and there's no injury, and so we have to go from there.”