Fill-in Pistons coach Rex Kalamian had to get creative when Killian Hayes was a late scratch for Tuesday’s game, writes Omar Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press. Replacing head coach Dwane Casey, who was away from the team on a personal matter, Kalamian inserted veteran guard Cory Joseph into the starting lineup and tinkered with the rotation throughout the game. He found an effective combination in the third quarter with Saben Lee and Trey Lyles, who helped cut a deficit from 22 points to nine.
“Sometimes through injury or through foul trouble, we have to find new rotations and new combinations that’ll work,” Kalamian said. “For us tonight, it seemed like the Trey Lyles-Saben Lee combination really worked for a little while. And even the other three guys, they were feeding into it. They had great spacing, and they were helping out a lot. It’s just one of those things that you gotta keep searching sometimes, keep rotating guys in and out. That’s what I tried to do in the fourth quarter, get combinations to work.”
The Pistons’ plans have been upended by injuries to Kelly Olynyk, who has only played 10 games, and Jerami Grant, who was leading the team in scoring before undergoing thumb surgery last week. Sankofa notes that Friday will mark six weeks since Olynyk suffered a sprained left knee, so he may be close to returning soon.
There’s more from Detroit:
- With Cade Cunningham entering health and safety protocols, James L. Edwards III of The Athletic looks at how the team will adjust until the rookie can return. Edwards expects Frank Jackson to move into the starting lineup, while Lee should see more minutes off the bench and Josh Jackson may find his way back into the rotation.
- Trade rumors surrounding Grant stem at least in part from his upcoming eligibility for an extension worth up to $112MM over four years, Edwards writes in a mailbag column. Edwards believes the Pistons want to eventually build around Cunningham, so they’re likely to see what they can get in return for Grant, rather than spend that much to keep him. Edwards also states that general manager Troy Weaver would likely consult with Grant while working out a trade because they have a long relationship that pre-dates Detroit.
- Second-round pick Luka Garza may see more minutes as the season wears on, Edwards adds in the same piece. Garza’s lack of quickness limits what he can do on defense, but he has already displayed his offensive talents in limited playing time.