Pistons' Cory Joseph exits NBA's health and safety protocols
The Pistons are getting closer to having all of their players out of the NBA’s health and safety protocols.
Cory Joseph, the last remaining player in isolation, exited the protocols and is working his way back to playing with the team. Isaiah Stewart also left protocols this week and joined the team in Charlotte, though he was not cleared to play in Wednesday’s game.
Stewart and Joseph are designated as “return to competition conditioning” on the injury report, which requires 48 hours to clear. Stewart could clear in time for Thursday’s game in Memphis, though Joseph probably wouldn’t. If everything goes well, Joseph might be more likely to play Saturday against the Orlando Magic at Little Caesars Arena.
The Pistons had eight players in protocols, but six — Cade Cunningham, Killian Hayes, Josh Jackson, Trey Lyles, Saben Lee and Rodney McGruder — returned to the roster for Monday’s win at Milwaukee.
The Pistons are building with their young core, and injuries to most of their veterans have scuttled the enthusiasm they had for this season. There’s still an optimism about what they can do with the young players they’ve had, and Casey said it’s a focus on the process instead of the results, at least for now.
They went through the initial stages of the rebuild last season, and as they add more pieces and learn the components of winning, they’re still on the road to where they want to be in the long term.
The lessons are hard, but it’s also going to help when their young players finally figure it out.
“It's called youth. Sometimes you're young and you don't know better. I think that has something to do with it. What we try to do. I never talk about winning — we talk about developing winning habits,” Casey said. “When you're a young team with first- and second-year players — we have a couple of veteran players but for the most part, our guys getting big minutes are first- and second-year guys.”
That growth can be seen in Saddiq Bey’s improved play recently, and even with Hamidou Diallo, as he’s started to draw some attention for his increased production. In the past few days, it’s resulted in wins, but it doesn’t always end up that way.
“We talk about developing winning habits and fundamentals, and all those things. At some point, it's going to click, and those winning habits will take care of themselves,” Casey said. “If you keep talking about, 'We've got to win this game,' and being realistic with ourselves and where we are, that's a recipe for doubt; that's a recipe for dropping your head and losing confidence.
“Understanding we're in growth-mindset situation, that's tough to win the NBA but at some point, it's going to pay dividends.”
Pistons at Grizzlies
► Tipoff: 8 p.m. Thursday, FedEx Forum, Memphis, Tennessee
► TV/radio: BSD/950 AM
►Outlook: The Pistons finish the second game of their back-to-back against the Grizzlies (25-14), who are one of the most surprising stories in the league this season. They could be one of teams to watch in the Western Conference playoffs.