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The value of a point guard in today’s NBA cannot be expressed enough. For the New Orleans Pelicans, they’ll have to be without theirs for approximately six weeks. Already bitten by the injury bug this year in the form of a sprained ankle, Elfrid Payton returned from a nine-game absence and fractured his left pinky against the Knicks on Friday.
The 24-year-old spent his first three (and nearly four) seasons with the Orlando Magic before being traded to the Phoenix Suns in February. Signing a one-year, $3 million contract with the Pelicans this offseason, the team was hopeful Payton would be able to fill the void at point guard left by Rajon Rondo.
Contributing 9.7 points, 5.2 rebounds and 5.3 assists per contest when healthy this season, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette product will seek to return by the end of the calendar year after undergoing surgery Tuesday.
The Pelicans, 9-7, find themselves in the same boat seeding-wise they were in at the end of last season (8th). In a western conference that’s extremely competitive, Jrue Holiday will return to his former position for the foreseeable future in an effort to hold down the fort until Payton returns.
It remains to be seen how this injury will affect a Pelicans offense that currently ranks 5th in the league in offensive rating. Regardless, coach Alvin Gentry’s handling of this situation will be something to keep an eye on moving forward.