Pistons guard Cade Cunningham to have season-ending surgery on left shin

Detroit News

Detroit — Cade Cunningham spent the last month resting and rehabbing his lingering left shin injury, which has bothered him since the preseason.

However, the second-year Pistons guard has decided that it is best to undergo season-ending surgery to treat his left shin, a league source confirmed to The Detroit News on Monday.

Cunningham, 21, has been sidelined for 17 games since the Pistons’ loss to the Boston Celtics on Nov. 9.

It’s a decision that Cunningham and the Pistons have been weighing for several weeks, according to a league source. The cause of Cunningham’s pain is believed to be a hairline stress fracture, which The News confirmed last month.

Cunningham wanted to avoid surgery and to determine if rest would alleviate the inflammation, according to a league source, but it appears that the procedure is the most efficient way to treat the lingering shin injury. He is expected to be fully recovered in time for training camp for the 2023-24 season.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski was first to report Cunningham’s decision to have surgery.

Cunningham, the former No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, had a promising rookie season, which landed him third in Rookie of the Year voting behind Scottie Barnes and Evan Mobley. He had a late-season surge with averages of 21.1 points, 5.7 rebounds and 6.5 assists after last season’s All-Star break that built the anticipation for his sophomore campaign.

Cunningham finishes his brief second season in the NBA with averages of 19.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 6.0 assists through 12 games.

The Pistons are last in the league’s standings at 7-22 and appear as if they are headed towards the lottery for the fourth consecutive draft. Cunningham’s absence will give rookie guard Jaden Ivey an opportunity to serve as the lead guard in the backcourt.

Ham’s homecoming draws crowd

A large crowd remained in the stands of Little Caesars Arena in the aftermath of the Pistons’ 124-117 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night.

The group was full of supporters for Darvin Ham, the Saginaw native who just finished his head-coaching debut in Detroit, the city not too far from his hometown, which made him an NBA champion.

Ham, smiling from ear to ear, greeted and embraced mostly everyone in the area. He took pictures, savoring his second win over the Pistons this season.

Despite the Lakers’ rough start to the season, Ham was triumphant in his homecoming as the Lakers delivered a loss to the Pistons.

“It’s always great coming back home,” Ham said before the win. “Obviously, I was able to be on the championship team here as a player. Just growing up here, (Michigan) has always been a special place. It has a special place in my heart.”

Ham had an eight-year playing career in the NBA from 1996-05 with six different teams, including the Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, Washington Wizards, Milwaukee Bucks, Atlanta Hawks and Pistons.

He averaged career-highs in points (5.1) and rebounds (4.9) during his first season with the Bucks in 1999-00 and served as a complementary player in the “Goin’ to Work” era for the Pistons, the team with whom he won a title in 2004.

Ham spent the eve of his head coaching debut in Detroit eating dinner with a former teammate from the Pistons’ championship team.

“I’m just thrilled to see my family,” Ham said. “I had dinner with Ben Wallace last night, which was a lot of fun. My brother and close friends from the neighborhood all joined in. It’s always a good time here.”

After his playing career, Ham joined the coaching ranks and spent three season coaching in the G League before receiving his first chance opportunity to coach in the NBA. Ironically, the Lakers were the first organization to give him that chance, as he served as a developmental coach under former Lakers coach Mike Brown. Ham was an assistant coach in Atlanta for five seasons before he returned to Milwaukee, where he spent four seasons under Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer.

Ham was hired by Los Angeles on June 3 after the organization relieved Frank Vogel of his duties. The Lakers stand at 11-15 after their latest six-game road trip, which Ham appreciates because he got the opportunity to visit a couple of his old stomping grounds.

“We started and finished in two places that are beloved to me. Starting in Milwaukee, just the professional impact that place has had on me and my basketball family back there. And then finishing here, where I’m from, and my biological family (is here). It’s been a whirlwind, but I’m happy. I’m satisfied with our team.”

Bagley moves to bench

Pistons coach Dwane Casey made a change to his starting lineup on Friday against the Memphis Grizzlies. Marvin Bagley III was moved to the second unit after 13 consecutive games as the team’s starting center, and rookie Jalen Duren was inserted into the starting lineup.

mcurtis@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @MikeACurtis2

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