Banged-up Backcourt

Jennings likely to miss Pistons opener; Stuckey still hopeful

If freak injuries happen in threes, the dwindling number of healthy Pistons guards better avoid black cats, ladders and all other symbols of doom and superstition.

Within a few minutes last week, the Pistons got news of Rodney Stuckey slamming the tip of his right thumb in his car door and Brandon Jennings experiencing stabbing tooth pain. Turns out Stuckey had a broken thumb that required surgery and the insertion of a screw and Jennings, the team announced Tuesday afternoon, has an impacted wisdom tooth and a hairline fracture of the jawbone at the base of that tooth.

Stuckey will have an X-ray taken at the end of next week, two weeks removed from his surgery, while Jennings will be immobilized for three weeks and re-evaluated at that time.

So while there’s a chance Stuckey could be back in time for the Oct. 30 regular-season opener at The Palace against Washington, Jennings will be out until at least Nov. 5 if the assumption is that he can’t play until being re-evaluated in three weeks. The Pistons will have played four regular-season games by then.

“Not normal, but injuries are injuries,” Maurice Cheeks said after Tuesday’s practice and before flying to Chicago, where the Pistons on Wednesday night will play the first of a back-to-back set that also takes them to Cleveland. “Doesn’t matter what kind of injuries they are. Hopefully they can get back and not linger. That’s what we want.”

The Pistons’ backcourt crunch was alleviated somewhat over the weekend when rookie Peyton Siva returned to the lineup after missing all of training camp with a calf muscle injury. Will Bynum, Chauncey Billups and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope round out the backcourt candidates, though Kyle Singler – primary backup to Josh Smith at small forward while Gigi Datome nurses a hamstring injury that has caused him to miss all three preseason games – has started at shooting guard for the past two games. Cheeks said he wasn’t sure who would start at Chicago, which expects Derrick Rose to make his United Center return after missing all of last season with a knee injury.

“You go into camp with five healthy guards back there and now, all of a sudden, you have three,” Cheeks said. “But preseason is the best time for these things to happen and hopefully we can plug guys in because things are going to happen during the regular season, too. And when they happen, you just have to keep on moving because no one feels sorry for you when someone gets hurt.”

Stuckey’s injury occurred as he was closing the door while holding his infant son. He didn’t immediately grasp what happened – until he took a step away from the car and realized his thumb wasn’t coming with him.

“At first I didn’t know, because it was stuck in the door so I didn’t really feel the pain,” he said. “When I opened the door, that’s when all the pain started.”

Stuckey said without inserting the screw, which will be permanent, he would have missed eight weeks. He guesses the maximum amount of time he’ll miss is three to four weeks, though it’s possible he could be ready sooner if the X-rays reveal favorable results.

“I can’t sit here and beat myself up about it,” he said. “Stuff like this happens. My hand just got caught. I’m just going to keep working, stay in shape. Once I can start dribbling the ball and start doing things like that, I’ll be ready.”