AUBURN HILLS – The news on Luke Kennard could have been worse.
But Dwane Casey prefers it had been better than the verdict delivered Friday after an MRI exam on the shoulder Kennard injured in Thursday’s win over Cleveland. It’s a sprain of the AC joint – in layman’s terms, a separated shoulder – and Kennard will be re-evaluated in two weeks.
That doesn’t mean he’ll be back in the lineup by mid-November, necessarily. You might recall that when Reggie Jackson tore ankle ligaments last December, the initial prognosis called for him to be re-evaluated in six to eight weeks. He missed 12 weeks, returning March 20 after suffering the injury on Dec. 26.
If there’s a best-case scenario for Kennard, it probably would mean returning a week after the re-evaluation. That could have him back just in time for a return match with Cleveland on Nov. 19 and cost him nine games.
“It’s unfortunate because he had such a good game going last night,” Casey said after Friday’s practice. “It was one of the best games he’s played this year and I was really excited for him. But that’s part of the NBA. I’m sure he’ll work his butt off to bounce back. That was a great step for him last night.”
In a little less than 13 minutes of the first half, Kennard hit all four of his shots for eight points. He got hurt running into a screen set by Channing Frye. His arm hung at his side as play continued until Frye fouled Blake Griffin on the next possession. Kennard was in a sling after the game.
Casey used Bruce Brown to replace Kennard in the first half and Glenn Robinson III took his minutes in the second half. That’s a blueprint for how Casey imagines filling Kennard’s role: with a smorgasbord of players. He also mentioned Jose Calderon, Khyri Thomas and two-way player Zach Lofton as possibilities.
“It’ll be matchup driven,” Casey said. “Glenn does a good job of chasing guys. Some guys have trouble against length. That will be Glenn. But Bruce, he’s capable of really guarding a lot of different people. Khyri Thomas, too. Luke going down is an opportunity for Khyri, Jose to be ready. … That’s why we have 15 on the roster. We’ll have to make a decision whether we want to bring up Zach Lofton. This is why you stay ready for your opportunity.”