Maxiell’s Season Ends

Detached retina could signal end of pending free agent’s 8-year run with Pistons

Save for an ankle injury that cost him a mid-March game at Utah, Jason Maxiell started all of the Pistons’ first 72 games this season – until the last one he played, last Friday, when Andre Drummond returned from a back injury.

That will stand as Maxiell’s last game of the season, the Pistons announced on Monday – and it could be the last game of his eight-year run with the franchise that made him its 2005 first-round pick. Maxiell, a pending free agent whose return is questionable with Drummond and Greg Monroe established as the starting frontcourt of the future, will miss the season’s final eight games after undergoing surgery to repair a detached retina.

“You feel horrible for Jason,” Lawrence Frank said before Monday’s game at Toronto. “He’s a very, very professional guy. You know exactly what you’re going to get every day. You hate to see any of your guys get injured and especially like that, where your season is over.”

Maxiell complained of blurry vision near the upper part of his eye late last week, Frank said. After drops were administered, he reported improvement. But on Saturday, when he again cited blurry vision, the Pistons sent him to a specialist. Maxiell stayed back when the team flew to Chicago that day for Sunday’s game. The diagnosis came in of a detached retina and surgery was originally scheduled for Monday, Frank said, but then pushed up to Sunday.

“The positives are the surgery went well,” Frank said. “He won’t be able to resume any basketball activities for two months, but the good thing is it’s not career threatening. He’ll be able to get back to playing basketball.”

Frank said the injury was similar to one incurred by Amare Stoudemire in February 2009, which cost Stoudemire the rest of that season.

Maxiell averaged 6.9 points and a career-best 5.7 rebounds a game this season, the first of his career as a full-time starter. Frank elevated Maxiell to the starting lineup last season in the season’s 24th game, after Jonas Jerebko and Ben Wallace had previously gotten turns as the starter at power forward, and the team’s fortunes began to turn immediately. The Pistons finished 21-21 after being 4-19 on the night Maxiell became the starter.