The Detroit Pistons will play their first preseason game Wednesday, but it could be a while longer before Cade Cunningham makes his debut.
Cunningham suffered a minor ankle injury early in training camp last week, and he still hasn’t resumed five-on-five action as of Tuesday, Dwane Casey said. He hasn’t been officially ruled out of Wednesday’s home game against the San Antonio Spurs, but Casey’s expectation is that he won’t play.
“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 is 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 bike or you’re on the sideline or in the pool, it doesn’t duplicate being on the court, getting the reps and I feel for the young man because he wants to be out there, but his body is not letting him. Hopefully his basketball IQ will help him come back quicker.”
Casey added that he’d want Cunningham to get a few practices under his belt before returning. Detroit’s next preseason game is in Memphis a against the Grizzlies Monday; a game Cunningham could potentially return for depending on how his ankle responds Thursday.
Frank Jackson is also nursing an ankle injury and is unlikely to play Wednesday.
Cunningham and Jackson’s absence will create opportunity for second-year point guard Saben Lee, and the rest of Detroit’s backcourt rotation. Casey intends to get a look at all 17 players on the roster during preseason, and additional minutes will be up for grab until Cunningham is back.
“We’re not going to play guys big minutes,” Casey said. “Twenty minutes, whatever it is. We want to get a look at everyone to evaluate everyone and see everyone, what they need, where they are, where we are. There will be an opportunity for everyone. Because one, we’re down numbers with Frank out, with Cade out, whoever else. (Isaiah) Livers is out. We’re really down some numbers as far as bodies are concerned. It will be a great opportunity for a young man like (Jamorko) Pickett to get in and get some opportunity, (Luka) Garza, all those guys will get their looks.
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