Six months after being anointed the future king of the NBA, Anthony Davis is done for the 2015-16 season.
The Pelicans announced on Sunday that Davis will miss the rest of the season and will need surgery on both his shoulder and his knee.
It’s an unfortunate ending for Davis, who many felt would rise to the next level among the NBA’s elite and be named MVP this season.
Instead, through a multitude of injuries, Davis and the Pelicans plateaued. The Pelicans never overcame a 1-11 start to the season, and though Davis put up solid numbers, he didn’t grow like many expected him to.
However, for the Pelicans, there are a few benefits to ending Davis’s season early. First, they avoid any risk of Davis further injuring his shoulder or knee, and he will undergo surgery and have more time to recover.
Davis’ absence could positively affect what’s become a lost season for New Orleans. With just 13 games remaining, the Pelicans can slyly slide down the standings in hopes of getting a better draft pick this June. The Pelicans will take any added talent they can get, and the possibility of adding a top-five pick with 23-year-old Davis is intriguing. In the meantime, the Pelicans get to play some of their younger players and see who fits as they prepare for the offseason.
Finally, the last benefit for the Pelicans comes at the expense of Davis. Davis signed a contract extension last summer that will kick in for the 2016-17 season. The extension came attached to something called “The Rose Rule,” which could boost Davis’ earnings on his extension by $23 million if he met certain criteria in his first four seasons. That criteria includes being named an All-Star starter at least twice, being named MVP, or being named one of the All-NBA teams at least twice.
Davis was an All-Star starter last season, but not this year, and he as no shot at MVP. That means, his last chance to earn that $23 million would be to make one of the three All-NBA teams, which he did last season. Assuming he’ll be entered as a forward, he’ll have to compete with players like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Draymond Green, Paul George, and even borderline players like Carmelo Anthony or Giannis Antetokounmpo for one of the six spots. Davis will have a shot at it, but he’ll be hurt by missing the final weeks of the season and playing for a bad team.
If Davis doesn’t make the All-NBA teams, it will hurt his pockets, but his yearly salary will be several million dollars lower, which benefits the Pelicans. Surely, they won’t complain about saving $23 million over the next five years.
For the Pelicans, it’s not entirely bad news. Yes, Davis’ injury issues should be concerning going forward, but with a potential top-five draft pick, cap space, and hopefully, a healthier cast going forward, the Pelicans could rebound fairly quickly from a disappointing season.