‘Use it as a positive’ – Pistons wrap their arms around Hayes as injury news hits

For all of the new players the Pistons added over an extraordinarily active and condensed transaction window last month, nobody represented the arrival of a new era more symbolically than Killian Hayes.

The 19-year-old French native was taken with the seventh pick in the draft, the highest the Pistons have picked in a decade and only the fourth time they’ve chosen in the top seven since franchise history changed with the selection of Isiah Thomas with the second pick in 1981.

So the news that the injury Hayes suffered on Monday night at Milwaukee – a non-contact injury in which Hayes crumpled to the floor while in pursuit of Bucks guard Jrue Holiday – was a torn right hip labrum came as a gut punch.

“It’s tough, especially for a young kid to play (seven) games and be injured coming into the league, just figuring it out,” Dwane Casey said before the Pistons rematch with the Bucks on Wednesday night. “He has to use it as a positive – study film, sit down with coaches, watch practices, sit during timeouts with coaches and be a student of the NBA game. Use this as a positive time to learn, to observe and get as much as he can mentally while he’s rehabbing and coming back.”

How long that rehabilitation might take is unknown. To a large extent, it will be determined by whether the injury can be addressed without surgical intervention.

In the meantime, the Pistons will put their arms around Hayes and see him through this on every level. It helps, Casey said, that his parents came to Detroit for the holidays and have remained there.

“They’ll be around to be a cocoon for him,” said Casey, who talked to Hayes on Tuesday night once the diagnosis was relayed to him following an MRI in Milwaukee. “He was in as good a spirits as you can be. He was like a typical 19-year-old kid. I think he was down a little bit, but he’ll be OK. Use this time as a positive to be a student of the NBA game, to study film, watch practice, do as much rehab to keep his body in as good a shape as he can.”

Without Hayes, the Pistons will cover minutes at point guard likely by shifting veteran Delon Wright, who’s played most of his minutes at shooting guard this season, to the point with Derrick Rose remaining in his familiar role off of the bench. The Pistons also have two point guards on two-way contracts – second-round pick Saben Lee and Frank Jackson, the 31st overall pick in 2017 who missed his rookie season with injury and spent the past two seasons with New Orleans.

“Nobody’s going to feel sorry for you,” Casey said. “Can’t do anything about it now except to rehab and get ready to play again. Use this to sharpen your mind, sharpen your NBA knowledge is one thing we intend to do with him and keep him as involved as we possibly can.”