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Detroit Pistons ‘encouraging’ season-ending surgery for Cade Cunningham, want to tank for Victor Wembanyama

Detroit Pistons

The Detroit Pistons entered the 2022-’23 NBA season with high expectations for their young roster led by Cade Cunningham. Before December even arrives, the focus now seems to be on the 2023 offseason and the years ahead.

At the bottom of the NBA standings, Cunningham’s injury only made things worse. The 21-year-old point guard suffered a stress fracture in his tibia, which comes with an indefinite timeline for a return.

Related: NBA Rookie of the Year race

While Cunningham has put off surgery for now and there is some hope that he will make the necessary progress to avoid a procedure, it seems Detroit’s ideal scenario doesn’t involve Cunningham returning this season.

According to James L. Edwards III of The Athletic, the Pistons are “encouraging” Cunningham to undergo surgery on his left leg. If the second-year guard went through with the decision and followed the organization’s wishes, he would likely be ruled out for the remainder of the season.

Detroit could theoretically have him return in the final weeks, but it would already be eliminated from playoff contention and in a battle for the best possible lottery odds in the 2023 NBA Draft.

Keep in mind, Edwards’ reporting comes not long after Marc Stein passed along that many in the NBA are wondering if the Pistons want Cunningham to undergo season-ending surgery so they can tank for Victor Wembanyama.

Related: Detroit Pistons keeping tabs on Miles Bridges

Importantly, tanking would only slightly improve Detroit’s chances of landing arguably the best prospect to enter the NBA Draft in more than a decade. The Pistons would have the same odds of landing the No. 1 pick (14%) whether they finish in last place or have the third-worst record in the NBA.

Considering there are now multiple reports pointing to the Pistons’ interest in shutting Cunningham down, it wouldn’t be a surprise if that is the path that is taken. It’s also evident that Detroit will be sellers at the NBA trade deadline, making every healthy player available who doesn’t serve a long-term purpose for the Pistons.

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