The Detroit Pistons officially released a medical update on point guard Cade Cunningham. It reads in full, “An MRI performed yesterday on Pistons guard Cade Cunningham confirmed a left knee strain. Cunningham will be re-evaluated in 7-10 days and an update will be provided as appropriate.”
Cunningham left Sunday’s game in the second quarter and never returned. By halftime, the Pistons had announced Cade would be out the remainder of the contest with a left knee strain.
There was no apparent injury during the Nuggets game itself, but many pointed to Cade seeming to flex and work out his knee during the team’s previous game against the Golden State Warriors. The thought being he attempted to play through some discomfort until it became too much and he and the team decided it was best to sit him.
Anything related to a knee is worrisome, and any injury to Cade is especially panic-inducing, what with his season-ending shin surgery last season and overall importance to making the woeful Pistons look even semi-competent.
But early media reports indicated that the team believes Cade escaped serious injury and while nothing is official until we see Cade back on the court, the 7-to-10-day re-evaluation period tracks with what is potentially a minor issue.
First, it’s important to separate out a strain and a sprain. A strain is an issue with a muscle and a sprain is an issue with a ligament. While either could be minor or severe — Monte Morris has a strain that has kept him out all season, after all — I feel like people are thinking ACL/MCL when thinking of Cade’s injury. That’s not the case.
The website Hashtag Basketball has an injury database, and it is a helpful guide to what kind of timeline we might expect with Cade’s absence.
Searching for knee strain returns several injuries within the database of 4,000-plus NBA injuries. The most apt comparison appears to be the kind that could keep Cunningham in street clothes for between two and three weeks. And that seems like it is on the cautious side.
A three-week injury would see Cunningham miss around seven games. Let’s hope he can rest up and be available for the crucial two-game stretch that sees the Pistons host the Charlotte Hornets and Washington Wizards on Jan. 24th and Jan. 27th, respectively. In this season of misery, the Pistons need all the wins they can get, and those are two rare winnable games.