Pistons sending Dinwiddie, Hilliard down to Grand Rapids for Saturday; Ex-Spartan Dawson joining on Sunday

The Detroit Pistons will be sending Spencer Dinwiddie and Darrun Hilliard down to Grand Rapids for a little tune-up, the team confirmed following a 102-95 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday.

As head coach Stan Van Gundy had hinted prior to tip-off, Dinwiddie and Hilliard will join the Grand Rapids Drive, the Pistons’ D-League affiliate, for their Saturday game in Toronto against the Raptors 905. The duo is then expected to return to Detroit for Sunday’s matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers.

With the Pistons sticking to a tight eight-man rotation on most nights, five-on-five playing time has been tough to come by for those on the outside looking in. A mid-weekend jaunt over the border will be a way for both Dinwiddie and Hilliard to remain game ready in lieu of playing time in Detroit.

Dinwiddie took over backup point guard duties for the Pistons in mid-November before swelling in his left knee handed the role back over to Steve Blake. Dinwiddie is averaging 6.3 points and 2.0 assists in six appearances this season.

Hilliard was Detroit’s 38th overall selection in this year’s draft. He’s played just 15 minutes for the Pistons thus far.

The Pistons are scheduled to play nine games between Friday and December 18, leaving little room for practice. As a result, sending players to Grand Rapids for single game assignments could become a recurring theme as the month carries on.

“We have three times in the next two weeks — one (Saturday) in Toronto and other two in Grand Rapids — where we’re off and they’re playing at home, so we may send those guys on those days to go play,” Van Gundy said.

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Following Saturday’s game in Toronto, the Grand Rapids Drive’s two upcoming home games falling on Pistons off days are scheduled for Dec. 13 against the Ft. Wayne Mad Ants and Dec. 19 against the Canton Charge.

Dawson Coming Home, For Now 

In other D-League news, the Grand Rapids Drive will serve as a temporary home for former Michigan State forward Branden Dawson.

Dawson, selected 56th overall in the 2015 NBA Draft, is currently under contract with the Los Angeles Clippers. He’ll join the Drive under the D-League’s flex assignment rule, where NBA teams without a D-League affiliate are able to assign players to another team’s willing affiliate.

The Clippers are currently one of 11 NBA teams without a D-League affiliate.

Dawson has yet to make an NBA appearance for the Clippers this season. The six-foot-six forward previously played four seasons at Michigan State, where he averaged 11.9 points and 9.1 rebounds as a senior.

After being sent down late Friday, Dawson will be expected to make his Drive debut on Sunday at the Delta Plex when Grand Rapids plays host to the Ft. Wayne Mad Ants.

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