| The Detroit News
Throughout the early part of the season, the Pistons have endured a growing number of injuries, including the most serious one on Monday, with Killian Hayes sustaining a torn labrum in his right hip.
The top reserve point guard, Derrick Rose, left Wednesday’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks late in the second quarter because of a knee issue. Though he didn’t return in the second half, Rose practiced Thursday in Detroit and won’t miss any additional time.
“He bumped it and it was sore. Giannis (Antetokounmpo) was spread out on a screen and they hit knees. It was more of knee-on-knee hit more than anything else,” Casey said Thursday. “It alarmed him as much as anything else. He’s fine, he practiced today and got his shots in. He’s OK to go.”
Although the injury was initially termed a knee bruise, the Pistons appear to have dodged what could have been a difficult injury to overcome. Without Hayes and Rose in the second half, the Pistons had Delon Wright and rookie Saben Lee as their only active point guards.
With Hayes out, Wright moved into the starting role, but in the two games against the Bucks, Casey noted the Pistons had slow starts in the first and third quarters. One fix could be using Rose, who is averaging 15.3 points and 5.4 assists in about 24 minutes per game.
Casey, though, has been steadfast that he prefers to keep Rose with the second group as the main cog and best scoring option. That setup is a bigger priority than trying to fix the problems with the starts to each half.
“We have a minutes limitation for Derrick, so if you put him in the starting lineup, those minutes are going to go off the charts,” Casey said. “That’s one thing we’re trying to fight as well as we like to keep the identity of the second unit intact, as much as possible.
“There may come a time where we have to move Derrick to the starting lineup, but right now I’d like to keep the identity and most of all, make sure we manage his minutes.”
The extent of Hayes’ absence, whether it’s weeks or months, still is unclear and is based on the severity of the tear in his labrum, and whether surgery is necessary. Casey will have to figure out how to distribute the minutes, which could mean more for Lee, who had four points and one assist, along with three turnovers and a steal in 12 minutes.
The Pistons traded into the second round to get Lee in the draft and Casey and general manager Troy Weaver are high on his potential, but as with the other rookies, they want to bring Lee along slowly.
Casey likes to have multiple ball-handlers on the court, but with Wright and Rose logging most of the minutes, they’ll have to manage the rotation, which could open more minutes for the wings, with Wright moving from there to point guard. Who plays when still can be juggled, as Casey sometimes has opted for Rose to finish in the closing minutes.
“You’re always trying to figure out whether he’s going to close the game or whatever. So, it’s more difficult to manage his minutes if he does start,” Casey said. “We all know he’s very capable of doing that. But, but the good of Derrick and also for a second unit, we’re going to keep him there.”
Suns at Pistons
► Tipoff: 7 Friday, Little Caesars Arena, Detroit
► TV/radio: Fox Sports Detroit/97.1 FM
► Outlook: The Pistons (1-7) have lost three straight games and the schedule doesn’t get any easier, with the improved Suns (6-2) looming. Chris Paul (13.3 points and 8.3 assists) has been a big offseason addition that’s helped elevate Phoenix to one of the elite teams in the West.