Injuries mount for Pistons: Cunningham, Hayes out vs. Knicks; Saddiq Bey questionable
Detroit — The injury bug is turning into an injury pterodactyl.
The Pistons have been bitten by injuries for most of training camp and the preseason schedule — and the list of the walking wounded seems to be getting longer with every passing day.
As No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham’s recovery from a sprained ankle stretches into a second week, the Pistons now are down two more starters. Saddiq Bey sustained a sprained left ankle in Monday’s loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, and Killian Hayes is in the concussion protocol.
Hayes will miss Wednesday’s preseason game against the New York Knicks, and Bey is questionable, pending treatment leading up to the game.
“(Bey) turned his ankle (Monday) night and he's a little gimpy,” coach Dwane Casey said. “We'll see how he goes (Wednesday); we're down a lot of men.
“Usually in training camp, you have guys like Isaiah Livers, a lot of guys that are a little nicked up and they don't get reps in practice. We're down a few men as far as reps in practice, so the starters are getting a lot of reps — which is good on one hand, but yet when something like an ankle comes up, you've got to have those guys in there.
Casey added the preliminary indications are that Bey’s ankle issue isn’t serious, but they’ll continue to monitor his progress.
Cunningham’s lingering injury issues are becoming the big story of training camp, as the rookie has missed the first two preseason games and is trending toward missing the final two as well. If Cunningham’s status doesn’t improve, his availability for the regular-season opener Oct. 20 against the Chicago Bulls also will be in question.
Casey insists the team and medical staff are being cautious with Cunningham’s ankle and that they don’t want him to turn a minor injury into a major one during the preseason, which could lead to an extended absence during the regular season.
“We're not going to rush Cade back. When he comes back, it doesn't mean he's ready to go and that we'll just throw him out there and see what happens,” Casey said. “He's too valuable for us. Whatever it is, we'll sit down and meet with his team and the medical team and myself and (general manager) Troy (Weaver) and map out a plan.
“We just don't want to rush him back and reinjure it.”
While he’s been injured, Cunningham has been doing mental reps during practice, watching intently from the sideline and getting a better understanding of the offensive and defensive schemes. He’s done some light shooting work at the end of practice as well, which would seem to suggest that there isn’t much danger of further injury at this point.
In his transition to the NBA, Cunningham needs to be in the fray to experience game rhythm and the contact that goes with playing with the veterans, not just in the Summer League, where Cunningham was a standout.
“The young man's missed valuable time as far as the speed of the game, the physicality of the game, the sets and the calls. You can stand on the sidelines and take notes and watch film all you want to, but until you get out there and actually go through it, it's tough,” Casey said. “We'll have to map out a plan for his return to build him back into the group, and not just throw him out there and say, ‘Cade, just go be Cade.’
“That's hard to do in this league, and it's not fair to him. We have to be smart in how we integrate him back in.”
'Attention to detail'
After the lopsided loss the Grizzlies on Monday, Casey said there’s still plenty of work to do before the Pistons are ready for the regular season. Turnovers and rebounding have been their main issues, but Casey added the Pistons’ approach and their pace in the game was glaring as well.
“Just attention to detail. Against good pressure defense, if you don't have attention to detail and if you don't run your offense with speed and crispness, you won't be able to run it,” he said. “That's one thing these next few days, we've got to get where we're running our offense with pace and we're sprinting back defensively.
Whatever it was we lost, we lost our energy level and our whole competition level went down. Some of it is on us and the fact that we had that long scrimmage on Saturday and came back and had a good, hard practice on Sunday.”
Doumbouya's new home
Former Pistons first-round pick Sekou Doumbouya, who was sent to the Brooklyn Nets in the trade for DeAndre Jordan last month, agreed to a two-way deal with the Los Angeles Lakers. Doumbouya was the 15th overall selection in the 2019 draft and after two uneven seasons with the Pistons, he was the longest-tenured Pistons player entering this season.
The Nets traded Doumbouya to the Houston Rockets, who waived him last week.
Pistons at Knicks
► Tipoff: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Madison Square Garden, New York
► Radio: 97.1
► Outlook: The Pistons (1-1) will be without Cade Cunningham (ankle) and Killian Hayes (concussion), and Saddiq Bey (ankle) is questionable.