Detroit Pistons' Isaiah Stewart out of protocols, joins team in Charlotte

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — After getting six players back from health and safety protocols over the weekend, the Detroit Pistons took another step toward normalcy on Tuesday.

Isaiah Stewart, who entered protocols Dec. 23 and missed their last five games, joined the team in Charlotte, Pistons coach Dwane Casey said after Tuesday's practice. His status for Wednesday’s game against the Hornets is questionable.

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“We'll see where he is tomorrow," Casey said. "Not sure where he is with his health and conditioning situation. We'll see."

When Stewart returns to the rotation, he'll give the Pistons a needed lift at center. Garza was Detroit's lone healthy big man last week with Stewart and Trey Lyles in protocols, and Kelly Olynyk still rehabbing a knee injury. Lyles, a power forward, has primarily played center since Olynyk's injury in early November. He started at center Monday against the Bucks.

Pistons center Isaiah Stewart tries to shoot against Heat guard Max Strus, left, and forward KZ Okpala during the first half on Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021, at Little Caesars Arena.
Pistons center Isaiah Stewart tries to shoot against Heat guard Max Strus, left, and forward KZ Okpala during the first half on Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021, at Little Caesars Arena.

Cade Cunningham, Killian Hayes, Lyles, Josh Jackson, Saben Lee and Rodney McGruder all returned from protocols recently, and all but McGruder were in the rotation during Detroit's 115-106 upset road win against the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday.

Casey said each player was better from a conditioning standpoint than he expected. Cunningham (37 minutes) and Lyles (34 minutes) were among Detroit’s leaders in minutes played on Monday. Jackson mentioned after Monday's game that he wasn't as tired as he thought he'd be, but Cunningham alluded to feeling as though he were playing in cold weather based on how his chest felt.

COVID-19 affects every player differently, but Casey credited his players for keeping their conditioning level high while in protocols.

“I was really happy with their conditioning level coming out," Casey said. "Guys have bikes at home, they work hard at home. Boredom makes that easy for you."

Cory Joseph is Detroit’s last remaining player in protocols.

Contact Omari Sankofa II at osankofa@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here's how you can gain access to our most exclusive Pistons content. Read more on the Detroit Pistons and sign up for our Pistons newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Pistons' Isaiah Stewart out of NBA's COVID-19 protocols