Detroit Pistons rookie Cade Cunningham has entered the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. The announcement was the proverbial other shoe to drop after it was reported earlier Wednesday that the team had signed Cheick Diallo of the Motor City Cruise to a 10-day contract.
With a full roster, the only way the Pistons could sign a player to a 10-day deal would be to cover the absence of a player or players that entered health and safety protocols.
It is unconfirmed that Cunningham tested positive for COVID-19 but there is a specific protocol for players to return to action.
A positive player is held out for a minimum of 10 days and if any fever is found there must be 24 hours since the fever breaks until you have a chance to return to action. The player must also return at least two negative PCR tests taken at least 24 hours apart. Once back, the player undergoes a cardiac screening and be monitored before receiving the all-clear to play.
It is unknown at this time if any other Pistons players or personnel will be entering health and safety protocols or be forced to isolate.
Detroit had dodged any players falling into the protocols, but that luck ended Wednesday. It was no surprise as early Wednesday morning it was reported that Nerlens Noel had entered health and safety protocols, and the Pistons had just played the New York Knicks on Tuesday with Noel seeing 24 minutes of action.
Losing Cunningham would be a big blow to Detroit’s already anemic offense. Since Jerami Grant was sidelined with injury, Cunningham led the Pistons in field goal attempts, assists, steals, and was second in points per game and rebounds per game behind Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart, respectively.
For the season, Cunningham is averaging 15.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.2 and assists.
Diallo is not a direct Cunningham replacement but does provide some depth at the team’s thin big man rotation. Detroit is missing Grant as well as Kelly Olynyk and have been forced to play Trey Lyles quite a bit at center with Luka Garza also getting spot minutes.
Diallo is another undersized big man at 6-foot-8 but he’s averaged 14.4 points and 8.3 rebounds in 21.6 minutes with the Cruise. He could be used for spot minutes in place of Garza as a player who can cover more ground defensively while Stewart takes a breather on the bench.
With Cunningham out, the Pistons will hope Killian Hayes is healthy and ready to contribute. Hayes missed the game against the Knicks with a non-COVID illness, and perhaps that was a blessing in disguise.
How Dwane Casey or Rex Kalamian decide to configure their backcourt should be interesting. The team could mix and match Cory Joseph, Saben Lee, Frank Jackson, Josh Jackson and Rodney McGruder into all kinds of funky combinations as they wait for Cade to return.
If more players fall into health and safety protocols, things could get mighty interesting and mighty challenging for Detroit. We will bring you more on this evolving situation as more information is released.