Anthony Davis kept producing.
It turns out the Pelicans forward was suffering quietly, playing this season with a torn labrum in his left shoulder that — when coupled with the left knee injury he suffered Friday — led the New Orleans to announce Sunday that it will shut him down for the rest of the season.
Davis sat out the Pelicans’ 109-105 win against the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday at the Smoothie King Center. He’ll miss the team’s final 13 games and will undergo surgery on his shoulder and a procedure — a team spokesman said it might or might not be surgical — on his knee.
The 6-foot-10 forward finished the season averaging 24.3 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocked shots despite dealing with the shoulder issue “the entire season,” coach Alvin Gentry said.
“Obviously it shows (Davis’) ceiling,” guard Jrue Holiday said. “And there’s not really one there.”
Davis attended Sunday’s game but was not made available for interviews. He’s scheduled to meet with reporters after Monday’s practice.
“He’s disappointed. He’s very disappointed,” Gentry said. “You know good and well he loves playing, and he wants to be good and he feels a huge obligation to try to make this team better, to try to get them back to where they were last year, making the playoffs and stuff like that.”
But the Pelicans “have to look at what’s best for the future of our franchise,” Gentry said, and that means giving Davis a head start on surgery and rehab, seven months before the start of training camp.
The decision was made after consultation with doctors about Davis’ knee injury and the torn labrum. The final call was a franchise decision, and Davis provided input.
On one hand, sitting Davis seems a simple call.
Even after Sunday’s win, the Pelicans are 26-43, guaranteed a losing record and with only a scant mathematical chance of reaching the playoffs. But ESPN’s Basketball Power Index gave New Orleans a 15.9 percent chance of landing a top-three spot in the NBA draft lottery.
Cutting Davis’ season short — despite Sunday’s outcome — makes losing more likely, and the Pelicans could increase their lottery odds.
Gentry said that’s not a factor in his thinking.
“When we walk out on the court, we try to play at the highest level that we can,” Gentry said. “Wherever that gets us in the draft, that gets us in the draft. I’ve never been a guy that thought, ‘Hey, let’s get extra pingpong balls’ or whatever. I don’t know how you sell that to your players.”
Gentry also downplayed the significance of the potential financial implications for Davis, saying he didn’t think they complicated the franchise’s decision.
The five-year contract extension Davis signed in the offseason becomes at least $23 million richer if he qualifies for the NBA’s “Rose Rule,” which would allow his salary to take up 30 percent of the Pelicans’ salary cap as opposed to 25 percent.
To qualify for the Rose Rule — named for Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose — a player must, while under his rookie contract, win at least one MVP award, be voted an All-Star starter at least twice or make the first-, second- or third-team all-NBA, voted by media members, twice.
Making an all-NBA team likely will be more difficult for a player who will finish the season missing 21 games, including the final 14.
“To me, if you’re asking me if he’s one of the 15 best players in the NBA, I don’t think that’s even up for discussion,” Gentry said. “Anybody that doesn’t think he’s one of the top 15, they shouldn’t be writing (about) or they shouldn’t be coaching in this league.”
Shoulder surgery also is likely to keep Davis from having a chance to participate in the Olympics this summer. Davis, who won gold medals with the U.S. team at the London Olympics in 2012 and the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain, is among 30 finalists for a spot on the squad that will travel to Brazil.
Asked whether surgery would affect Davis’ Olympic participation, Gentry said, “If I was a betting man, probably so.”
In four seasons, Davis has missed 68 career games, and he has yet to play more than 68 in a season.
That has, understandably, raised questions about Davis’ durability, but Gentry said it’s “amazing” that people question Davis’ toughness, noting that he played through the shoulder injury.
“It makes me angry when people talk about him being soft,” Gentry said. “If you knew that kid and you were with him every day, you would never use those words when it comes to him.”