With Rose sidelined, Pistons in a familiar spot – patching together another position

Derrick Rose
Derrick Rose is among the handful of players the Pistons have under contract for next season, a season that faces many challenging questions amid an uncertain time.
NBAE/Getty Images
by Keith Langlois
Web Editor

DETROIT – Brandon Knight has played for 10 coaches among five NBA franchises since the Pistons drafted him in 2011. His career might have unfolded a little differently if it had started on Dwane Casey’s watch. Casey’s system, Knight has come to learn, allows point guards to thrive.

“Absolutely, because the ball’s in your hands a lot,” he said. “The offense is predicated a lot on point guards making the right decision.”

Well, the ball is almost certainly going to be in Knight’s hands a lot over the final 20 games of an injury-dominated 2019-20 Pistons season.

Derrick Rose’s right ankle injury suffered in Sunday’s loss at Sacramento has been diagnosed as a grade-2 sprain. He’ll be re-evaluated in two weeks, but Casey wouldn’t guarantee that Rose will be back this season given the circumstances – a veteran they’ll want fully healthy to start next season and a team already committed to developing its young players and rebuilding.

“I don’t know what he would get from it,” Casey said. “We’d get a little bump from it as a team, but I don’t know what he would gain from it by coming back (late in the season). But we haven’t made that decision yet.”

How the Pistons patch together the critical position will depend on that day’s injury report. Nothing can ever be taken for granted in a season that’s seen the Pistons lose a staggering 226 man-games to injury, third in the NBA behind Golden State and Washington. And it’s been who’s lost those games – starters Blake Griffin, Reggie Jackson and Luke Kennard most prominently and, now, Rose.

“I have not seen anything like this in my years in the NBA and college,” Casey said. “You can handle one or two, but as many as we’ve had, it’s very unusual.”

With Rose sidelined and Jackson gone after having been bought out, Knight ascends to No. 1 on the, uh, “depth” chart. Behind him will be a mishmash of Jordan Bone – whose days remaining under the 45-day cap available to players on two-way contracts are dwindling – and players moving from other positions. Svi Mykhailiuk and Bruce Brown are possibilities, though Brown has missed the last three games with a left knee contusion and might be available for Wednesday’s game with Oklahoma City or on the weekend, Casey said.

The Pistons also have a 15th roster spot available with the expiration of Derrick Walton’s 10-day contract. If they fill it, which is likely, point guard is the most obvious need.

“The front-office group is always looking for a healthy body,” Casey said. “There’s nothing concrete.”

Knight, it appears, dodged a bullet himself when he and Harrison Barnes banged knees in the final seconds of Sunday’s game. Knight felt an immediate jolt of pain and writhed on the court for a few agonizing seconds, but he went through Tuesday’s practice and appears to have avoided injury.

“Definitely an unfortunate situation, especially time and score,” he said. “But thankful to be able to get through that and be OK.”

What happens when it’s time for Knight – no stranger to injuries himself in recent years, including a torn ACL that cost him the 2017-18 season – to check out of Wednesday’s game is anyone’s guess.

“By committee, like we’ve been doing the last couple of months,” Casey said of the blueprint. “Hopefully get an opportunity to play the young kids at some point, see what they can do. But hopefully Brandon can go tomorrow night and Bruce practiced today and we’ll see if he can go tomorrow night and how he feels after today.”

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