DENVER — The Detroit Pistons, who have been hit hard by injuries and COVID-19 this season, were on the cusp of returning to full strength earlier this week.
Kelly Olynyk played his first two games since spraining his left knee on Nov. 10, and Jerami Grant started working out with the Motor City Cruise following a five-week absence after undergoing thumb surgery in December.
They’ll have to wait a little longer until their two highest-paid players see the floor together again. Olynyk entered the league’s health and safety protocols on Saturday, joining Grant, who entered protocols on Wednesday. Both will either have to isolate for 10 days or produce consecutive negative tests to rejoin the Pistons, and will then undergo a mandatory reconditioning period before they can play a game.
Olynyk returned from a 33-game absence against the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday, and scored 22 points and grabbed nine rebounds in 22 minutes to help power the Pistons to a come-from-behind road victory. He followed that with four points, four rebounds and five assists in 19 minutes in Friday’s loss in Utah.
More than half of Detroit’s roster has entered health and safety protocols this season. The Pistons have had 10 players — Cade Cunningham, Killian Hayes, Isaiah Stewart, Saben Lee, Trey Lyles, Josh Jackson, Rodney McGruder, Cory Joseph, Luka Garza and Frank Jackson — exit protocols since the beginning of January.
The Pistons will likely again lean upon Lyles, a power forward by trade, to provide minutes at center behind Stewart.
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