If not for the ever persistent Anthony Davis trade rumors, the recent injury woes of the franchise would be the primary headline in New Orleans. The concerns are well-founded as the Pelicans have finished at the bottom of the league in terms of games lost to injury or illness in two of the last three seasons. This includes a disappointing 2017-18 season in which the team surrendered 340 games lost to injury and nearly $30 million in salary.
Two players, Alexis Ajinca and Frank Jackson, accounted for nearly half of the total games lost as their respective injuries forced both to spend the entire season in street clothes. DeMarcus Cousins’ January Achilles tear was the most significant injury, costing the team 34 more games lost and over $7 million in salary. Concerns about his long-term durability following the injury eventually played a factor in his departure from the organization and his decision to sign a one-year deal with the Warriors.
However the sustained stretch of good health for franchise stalwarts Davis and Jrue Holiday has been lost in the noise of last few seasons. The once injury prone duo has lost a combined 17 games due to injury or illness over the past two seasons. Keeping these two All-Stars on the court is a primary reason the Pelicans have remained relevant in the standings despite the injury struggles.
The franchise hopes a shakeup in the medical team will help reinvigorate the group. Physical therapist and assistant athletic trainer Jared Lewis was promoted and given the title of Director of Athletic Therapy & Rehabilitation after former head AT Duane Brooks left to join the Baltimore Ravens training staff. Former head athletic trainer Jon Ishop returns to the staff after four years as the head athletic trainer and Director of Sports Medicine of the Pistons. Ishop’s familiarity with Davis should help bolster the staff and keep the Pelicans on the court.