Up in the Air

Knight, Gordon, Bynum all possible – but not certain – for Pistons

Brandon Knight is the latest Piston possibly felled by injury.
Allen Einstein/NBAE/Getty Images
Lawrence Frank prepares for every contingency, which means he must be running a million different scenarios through his mind where Wednesday’s game at New Jersey is concerned – and that’s just for his backcourt.

He knows Rodney Stuckey will be available and Walker D. Russell Jr. got on Roundball One as players around the league in his situation – those on non-guaranteed contracts – began to be cut in advance of the looming deadline for guaranteeing contracts for the remainder of the season.

So that’s two guards. As for Will Bynum, Ben Gordon and Brandon Knight … stay tuned.

Bynum (foot) and Gordon (shoulder) participated in practice for the second straight day after extended absences. Knight, who broke his nose early in Saturday’s win over New Orleans, did not participate in practice but worked on the side with strength coach Arnie Kander, trying to get comfortable with the protective mask fitted for him on Monday.

“It feels great,” he said of his nose. “I’m taking a little bit of anti-inflammatory, but it’s feeling fine. If (Frank) calls me to go, I’m ready to go. I’ve just got to get used to the mask. That’s it.”

“We’ll see,” Frank shrugged. “That’s the season. Jersey, they’ll have 10 (players available). They had eight when they played us last (week). That’s what every team is going through.”

That New Jersey game ran the Pistons’ losing streak to seven and dropped them to 4-20, but they played markedly better than they had in their previous three games to start that road trip and it set the stage for a weekend home sweep of Milwaukee and New Orleans. After a Sunday day off, the Pistons got their first chance to practice on consecutive days since training camp.

“It’s mentality and it’s habits right now,” Frank said. “Having the right mentality and the proper habits, so whether it’s the game, the practice … you can’t let winning get in your eyes, either. We haven’t won a lot of games, but you’ve got to deal continually with the truth. Just because you win, not everything’s great, and just because you lose, not everything’s horrible. It’s keeping a balance there.”

Knight’s injury might only be a temporary setback, but the timing was tough for him at the Pistons. It came 24 hours after his finest game yet, a 26-point, seven-assist, zero-turnover outing. No wonder Kander had to hold him back when they took him to the locker room five minutes into the New Orleans win.

“I tried (to talk his way back into the game),” he grinned. “But everyone else advised me it wouldn’t be too smart.”

Kander’s advice to Knight on Tuesday: Leave the mask on, even in non-contact and shooting drills, to grow comfortable wearing it.

“Just try to keep it on,” Knight said he was told. “There will be times you get frustrated and want to take it off. Make sure you fight to keep it on, especially in times like this, to get used to how it will feel in a game. When sweat gets up under it, it slides a little bit. Just it being stuck to your face is kind of weird. Everything is a growing experience and you’ve got to get used to it and adjust to it.”