On January 2nd, Tyreke Evans missed the game against the Dallas Mavericks due to right knee tendonitis. This was the same knee that caused him to miss the first 17 games of the season after undergoing arthroscopic surgery during training camp. In case one needs reminding, Evans also went under the knife back in May of 2015 for, you guessed it, right knee issues.
Following last night's win, a game in which Evans had to leave early due to swelling in his troublesome knee, Marc Spears announced that Evans was going to have his knee drained today but he didn't plan on missing any upcoming games, including the Pelicans next contest on Friday against the Charlotte Hornets.
There is a troubling pattern developing here. Tyreke's right knee is having trouble staying healthy since the end of last season, yet the Pelicans have not once mentioned any restrictions. After treating Jrue Holiday with kid gloves largely because they were too aggressive with his minutes a season ago, New Orleans is yet to take a more serious approach with Evans.
Does this make any sense?
Tyreke has another year remaining on his contract, the team has a 12-26 record and Quincy Pondexter has already been ruled on what is looking like a lost season. If Evans remains a key part of the future, logic dictates caution.
Some might surmise it is in the best interests of the organization to get him back on the court if they have any notion of moving him, but rushing him back before he's ready would be a bad look. The New Orleans medical staff is seemingly always under scrutiny and this episode would represent another notch in that argument.
44 games remain on the schedule, and as of this writing, the Pelicans sit 5 games in back of the Utah Jazz for the eighth seed in the Western Conference. Despite the losing performances of late (and pretty much all season), a postseason berth remains theoretically within striking distance. But should this goal be-all and end-all?
Say the Pelicans do make the playoffs, how realistic is it they would make greater noise than last season? In giving it straight gas, as Pondexter did last season, could another Pelican cost the team his services for the long-term?
The equation is filled with many unknowns, but the answer seems clear -- complicating the odds of the medical reports on this roster for the rest of the 2016 season is foolhardy. The potential payoff does not outweigh the risks. The organization has a duty to figure out a way of reducing the number of games missed by players on the payroll. Anthony Davis' presence in New Orleans demands this. Deep playoff runs and championships come via not only possession of star players but team-wide health as well.
In choosing this alternative, the worst case scenario would be the franchise would likely increase their odds of landing a higher pick in the 2016 NBA Draft while improving the chances of returning Evan's right knee back to 100% before the start of the 2017 season.
There is no doubt Evans has proven himself a warrior, normally returning back to action ahead of timetables. His constitution pushes him to play in every game possible. It's high time, though, Dell Demps or someone in the organization protects Reke Havoc from himself, for the good of the Pelicans' future.