Chicago — The countdown for Cade Cunningham’s debut has been paused since the news of his ankle injury early in training camp.
Cunningham didn’t play in the season opener on Wednesday, and coach Dwane Casey revealed Friday that he will not play in any of the three games on the current trip in Chicago, Atlanta and Philadelphia. Though Cunningham isn’t with the team, there’s a plan in place to get the No. 1 overall pick ready to play.
“Last week, we made the decision to make sure we bring him back gradually, where he’d get some time with the G League team, practice with them, and get some reps with them,” Casey said Saturday. “Our practice yesterday was good but not the up-and-down and scrimmaging that he’s going to get with the G League team. I think that’s so important and that’s another reason why it’s important for us to have the G League team right there in Detroit.
“The Cruise is right there, three blocks away at Wayne State, and that’s what it’s for — rehab purposes and to grow our young players and it’s serving its purpose for us right now with our No. 1 pick.”
General manager Troy Weaver indicated this week that Cunningham could be on course to make his debut in the second home game, on Oct. 30 against the Orlando Magic.
The timing of having Cunningham not make the trip, work with the Motor City Cruise for the next week, and then play against the Magic seems to make sense logistically and would explain why Cunningham stayed behind.
For what it’s worth, Casey also expounded on the reasons behind the team holding Cunningham out — he’s still having some discomfort with the ankle injury.
“He’s champing at the bit and he wants to play. The medical people are holding back — and rightfully so,” Casey said. “You don’t want to rush him back if it’s not 100%. That’s the one thing that they want to make sure of, that it was 100%, because there were certain movements he had that were still sore.”