Detroit — Just as Marvin Bagley III was gearing up for his first full season with the Pistons, he endured a setback in Tuesday’s game, suffering a bone bruise and sprained MCL in his right knee.
The injury, which will sideline Bagley for about three or four weeks, came in the loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder at Little Caesars Arena. Pistons coach Dwane Casey addressed the injury following Wednesday’s practice.
“It’s unfortunate for Marvin last night and, hopefully, it’s not for long,” Casey said,” but that’s one reason why we want to get multiple NBA guys to fill those positions if something happens.”
The Pistons began the season with five bigs in their frontcourt: Isaiah Stewart, Jalen Duren, Nerlens Noel, Marvin Bagley and Kelly Olynyk, who was traded to the Utah Jazz in exchange for Bojan Bogdanovic.
Noel, who’s a formidable rim protector and lob threat when healthy, has yet to suit up in preseason due to reconditioning because of plantar fasciitis. Duren sustained a shoulder injury last week against the New York Knicks, but returned Wednesday night and grabbed 10 rebounds in a reserve role.
Stewart was in the midst of a transition to playing on the perimeter more as a power forward, but he could be called upon to play heavy minutes at the center position, especially during times when Duren needs a breather.
Bagley’s injury leaves the team with two centers, but two-way forward Braxton Key has played center in small lineups. Bojan Bogdanovic (calf strain) missed Tuesday’s game but participated in practice on Wednesday. Alec Burks, Kevin Knox and Hamidou Diallo are also sidelined due to injury.
Despite the team’s injury-riddled training camp, Casey appeared relieved to know that Knox (right gastroc strain) and Diallo (left quad) could play if it were the regular season. It was part of the thinking for general manager Troy Weaver added veteran depth at several positions.
“It’s part of the NBA,” Casey said. “That’s one reason Troy has done a good job of bringing multiple guys in. Unfortunately, the multiple guys are (sitting out, injured) behind the bench. I think it’s a freak thing. I do know that some of the guys that were behind the bench — Kevin, (Diallo) — if it was a regular season game, they’d be able to go. That’s refreshing to know that.”
The team is also without forward Isaiah Livers, who is battling a hip injury. He missed the entirety of training camp as a rookie last year due to a foot injury. Casey sounded confident that the injury shouldn’t cause Livers to miss significant time.
“He should be back next week,” Casey said. “I don’t know about Thursday night (against Memphis), but he should be back next week. It’s not serious, but enough nagging that we don’t want to turn it into it being serious. Unfortunate for him because this is two training camps he’s missed. He’s going to be a valuable piece for us, but again, we have to be available.”
Grizzlies at Pistons
Tipoff: 7 Thursday, Little Caesars Arena
TV/radio: NBA TV, BSD/97.1
Outlook: The wounded Pistons (0-3) are still looking for their first win of the preseason and the Grizzlies (2-2) are coming to town, featuring the talented backcourt of Ja Morant and Desmond Bane, who combined for 56 points in a 109-105 loss to the Magic on Tuesday.