Pelicans center Alexis Ajinca will miss the next four to six weeks, recovering from bilateral knee injections performed on Thursday.
Ajinca is suffering from tendonitis in his knee, which kept him off of the practice floor for the final week of preseason and forced him onto the inactive list for the team’s season-opening loss against the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday.
The Pelicans are now missing five players for at least one month: Forward Solomon Hill (hamstring), guard Rajon Rondo (core muscle), center Omer Asik (illness), guard Frank Jackson (foot) and now Ajinca.
That’s nearly $32 million (27.3 percent) of the team’s payroll missing the first month of the season due to injury.
Ajinca was unlikely to play a significant role this season, despite his $5 million salary, because of the Pelicans’ duo of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins rotating at center throughout the game.
He played in just 16 games after Cousins was acquired at the All-Star break last season, averaging 6.3 points and 4.3 rebounds in 14.6 minutes as an afterthought on the bench. Rumors circulated in media reports throughout the offseason the team was shopping him for a trade but no deal was reached.
“I’m just trying to play my hardest and control what I can control,” Ajinca said during media day. “I want to play when they call me to play and do my best.”