Grant, Olynyk could return to action for Pistons vs. Pelicans

Detroit News

Detroit — The Pistons might be getting back to full strength.

After playing most of the season with piecemeal lineups and rotations, the Pistons could be playing their first game with their full starting lineup and reserves since November.

Jerami Grant, the team’s leading scorer, and Kelly Olynyk were not on the injury report and appear poised to return to the lineup for Tuesday’s matchup at Little Caesars Arena against the New Orleans Pelicans.

Grant suffered a thumb injury on Dec. 10 and later had surgery to fix the issue. He was slated to return in January, but he went into health and safety protocols, which delayed his return to the lineup.

Olynyk had a knee injury on Nov. 10 and missed more than two months before he returned and played two games, against the Sacramento Kings and Utah Jazz. He then went into health and safety protocols and has missed the last four games.

There’s a domino effect with the return of two of their most experienced players and better scorers. It means that Saddiq Bey, who had moved from small forward to power forward, switches back to his more natural position with Grant’s return. Olynyk will be the center on the second unit, which allows Trey Lyles to go back to power forward. Hamidou Diallo goes from the starting lineup to the reserve unit.

“It’s going to be an adjustment; it affects a lot of people. It affects Saddiq because he’s now got to move to the (small forward),” coach Dwane Casey said. “It affects, Hami, who now goes to the second unit. It affects Trey, who now goes to (power forward). It’s a trickle-down.

“For Rodney (McGruder) and a lot of guys, they move down a little bit. It’s a developmental piece, where guys have gone in and gotten better developed and they’ve gotten confidence.”

The Pistons get more quality depth for their rotation, and the second unit gets more time to jell, with Killian Hayes moving from the starting unit to the reserve group and veteran Cory Joseph joining the starters.

There’s plenty of moving around to sort out, which has been somewhat overdue with the Pistons’ struggles early in the season and the production that they’ve started to see with some changes in the rotation.

It gives Casey more options, but it also has provided some opportunities for players to show what they can do with increased playing time. With fewer minutes to go around, there will be less margin for error.

“Whoever’s not getting it done, it creates competition and leverage at that position, because I would not hesitate to put Rodney or Josh (Jackson) or Hami in any of those positions because of what they’ve done since those guys have been out,” Casey said. “We’re excited about having Jerami and Kelly back, but the key thing is human nature is human nature and we want to make sure guys stay ready and stay motivated to come in and contribute if need be.”

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard

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