The bad news just keeps getting worse for Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans. On Sunday, the team announced that they were shutting down their franchise center for the remainder of the season, in part because New Orleans’ playoff hopes are rapidly dwindling, but also due to nagging injuries that reportedly could be more serious than previously anticipated.
Justin Verrier of ESPN.com is now reporting that the 23-year-old Davis is set to undergo surgeries to repair both a torn labrum in his left shoulder and a troublesome left knee that he aggravated during a loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night.
“Shutting players down” prior to season’s end has become a hotly-debated trend with plenty of detractors around the NBA and the general sports media, but in Davis’ case it appears to be warranted given the nature of his injuries and the organization’s justifiable concern about his long-term health.
For Davis, it’s a bitter end to what can only be characterized as a lost season for the fledgling superstar, who many around the league have heralded (perhaps somewhat prematurely) as the NBA’s NEXT BIG THING. After his inaugural postseason appearance against the Warriors last spring, many anticipated that the Pelicans would make a leap this year. But a rash of injuries to various key players torpedoed those plans from the start and was compounded by generally uninspiring performances even when their squad was relatively healthy.
The recovery period for a torn labrum is about of nine months, possibly longer, meaning that Davis could be out until after the New Year, which would obviously preclude him from playing for Team USA at the Rio Olympics this summer. And that’s before you factor in the rehabilitation period for the knee injury, the diagnosis of which remains unclear at this time as well as whether that will run somewhat concurrently with his shoulder rehab.
There are also financial implications involved in his abbreviated season. Davis is eligible for something called the “Rose Rule,” meaning he can earn 30 percent of the salary cap if he meets certain prescribed incentives, namely making the All-Star team twice as a starter, being named MVP, or making the All-NBA team on two occasions. Since he was not a starter in this year’s All-Star game and very likely won’t be named league MVP, he would need to make the first, second, or third All-NBA team. If doesn’t, he’ll miss out on approximately $24 million in incentive money.
The Pelicans will also have their work cut out for them this summer. They have a handful of unrestricted free agents hitting the market, namely Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon, and Norris Cole, which means they’ll potentially have around $25 million in cap space to work with to try and attract marquee free agents to town. Considering the borderline disaster that has been the 2015-2016 season, they’ll need to make a splash to prevent another lost season next year.