COMMENTARY | The inevitability of 2012-13 being a lost season for the New Orleans Hornets in terms of wins and losses continued on Friday, February 28 with the news that the team is shutting down injured F/C Jason Smith. The Hornets' athletic reserve has been playing with a torn labrum for most of the season.
Although his fans may be upset that he is finished playing this season, this is a smart move for the Hornets and will benefit Jason Smith next season and beyond.
The grit and determination that Smith showed by playing through his injury for New Orleans was cause for celebration by Hornets fans. The obvious contrast between Jason Smith playing with a torn labrum and Eric Gordon missing games with a variety of ailments was unmistakable.
New Orleans head coach Monty Williams had to respect Smith's resolve. In fact, Jason Smith often played F or C in the fourth quarter over Robin Lopez and Anthony Davis. Although he lacks size like all the Hornets' big men, Smith has good leaping ability and a nice jump shot from the top of the key.
The first time he showed any evidence of playing through pain was in Tuesday's game versus the Brooklyn Nets. The following day, he did not play in the 119-74 drubbing at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Then on Friday, New Orleans announced that Smith was out for the season.
Assuming he is still with the Hornets/Pelicans in 2013-14, Jason Smith figures to get quality minutes off the bench as Anthony Davis continues to acclimate to the NBA. New Orleans can't afford for Smith to make his injury worse by playing through it in a season that isn't resulting in a playoff berth anyway.
Meanwhile, Anthony Davis will presumably get more playing time and on-the-job training for New Orleans once he returns from his sprained shoulder. The Hornets may still be mulling over whether Davis' future is at C or PF. In a perfect world, Davis and Ryan Anderson would both start. But playing C doesn't maximize Davis' skills and he would have to bulk up considerably to play the position more effectively.
The Hornets figure to have a few more exciting moments this season like their thrilling 100-95 win over the Detroit Pistons on Friday. However, New Orleans is already laying the groundwork of preparing for 2013-14. Shutting down Jason Smith is an important step to that end.
Patrick Michael was born in New Orleans and currently resides in the Big Easy. Patrick has followed the Hornets since they moved to New Orleans and has covered the team since 2010. He was in attendance the night the Hornets were one win away from the Western Conference Finals. Follow Patrick Michael on Twitter at patmichael84.
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