Pelicans' Davis out for season, putting Rio in doubt
NEW ORLEANS >> The New Orleans Pelicans have decided to shut down All-Star forward Anthony Davis for the rest of this season, and his future with the U.S. Olympic team for this summer's Rio Games is in doubt as well.
The team announced Sunday that Davis will soon undergo procedures to repair a recent knee injury, as well as a torn labrum in his left shoulder that has bothered him for much of the season.
With New Orleans virtually eliminated from playoff contention, coach Alvin Gentry said the club is taking a long-term approach to Davis' injuries and that shutting him down now should ensure his return by next training camp.
Gentry said Davis, who was not available to speak with reporters on Sunday, is disappointed, but added, "He's a smart kid and he understands that it's better to go ahead and any problems that you have, you get them taken care of now and you've basically got seven months before training camp starts again."
"That gives you a big window to do whatever you have to do and move forward with it," Gentry added.
Davis left New Orleans' previous game — a loss to Portland on Friday night — shortly before halftime with a left knee injury that appeared to be caused by a collision with Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum and Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday while Davis was setting a screen.
Gentry said Davis has been playing with his shoulder injury nearly the entire season, during which he averaged 24.3 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.1 blocks in 61 games, and received his third straight Western Conference All-Star selection.
Asked if Davis' injuries would prevent him from playing for the United States in the Summer Olympics, Gentry responded, "That I don't know, but if I was a betting man, probably so."
Davis, a fourth-year pro who turned 23 this month, has embraced opportunities to represent the United States in international competitions. He was a reserve for the U.S. team that won the gold medal at the London Games in 2012. When Team USA won the 2014 FIBA World Cup, Davis emerged as one of its top players, ranking third on the team in scoring with 12.3 points per game, second in rebounds with 6.6 and first in blocks with 2.1.
New Orleans spokesman Matt Ryan said the team wasn't ready Sunday evening to announce a precise diagnosis on Davis' left knee. Davis was expected to discuss his health and offseason plans after Monday's practice at team headquarters.
Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday said he hopes Davis' rehabilitation doesn't derail his Olympic prospects.
"I feel like this time he would have more of a prominent role on that team; It would be awesome to watch him play" for Team USA this summer, Holiday said. "But obviously he's going to make the right decision for himself."
The Pelicans have been decimated by injuries this season, with Davis becoming the fourth starter to see his season end early.
Small forward Quincy Pondexter never played this season because of complications from left knee surgery last offseason. Guard Tyreke Evans played in only 25 games before a right knee injury ended his season. Eric Gordon was limited to 42 games this season, returning briefly from a broken ring finger, only to break it again. Starting center Omer Asik has missed 13 games and regular reserve guard Norris Cole 24 games because of various injuries. Guard Bryce Dejean-Jones, who impressed the coaching staff during two 10-day contracts around midseason, had a season-ending broken right wrist shortly after the Pelicans decided to sign him through the rest of the season.
"This is the most frustrating season I've ever been through," said Gentry, who is in his first year with New Orleans after serving as a top assistant with Golden State during its 2014-15 championship season. "When I left Golden State to come here, I thought it was the best job available."
"We've got to plan for the future, and I think we've got a bright future here," Gentry said. "We have arguably the best player in the NBA. We have some good pieces and we're going to add some pieces" in the offseason.
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