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Anthony Davis will miss rest of season with torn labrum, knee surgery

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The Pelicans' star must now wait to find out if he makes one of the all-NBA teams. If so, he'll earn an extra $24 million on his next contract.

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Davis' season is officially over, according to his head coach. The Pelicans' star will sit out the team's final 14 games after sustaining knee and shoulder injuries, Alvin Gentry announced Sunday.

Davis has a torn labrum in his left shoulder, according to John Reid of Nola.com, and is set to undergo two surgeries -- one on the shoulder and one on his left knee, according to Jennifer Hale of Fox Sports.

Davis has suffered a number of minor injuries throughout his career and bounced back quickly from them, but with the Pelicans (25-43) far from the playoff picture, the team is prioritizing his long-term health. The last straw occurred on Friday when Portland's C.J. McCollum and teammate Jrue Holiday connected with Davis' left knee in the team's loss to the Blazers on Friday. Gentry had previously revealed that Davis was playing through a shoulder ailment.

The news cuts short a frustrating season for the rising NBA star. Following a superlative 2014-15 and a strong performance against the Warriors in the playoffs, many -- including us -- believed the 23-year-old was a leading candidate to win MVP and push New Orleans to the next level.

Instead, Davis' teammates suffered a never-ending string of injuries, forcing him to carry too heavy a load. His numbers (24.3 points and 10.3 rebounds on 49.5 percent shooting) are in line with his per-game averages from last year, but he's struggled defensively and failed to lift his Pelicans teammates to new heights. New Orleans lost 11 of its first 12 games and never recovered to mount a serious playoff push.

Davis' injury could also potentially cost him more than $24 million over the life of his next contract due to a unique quirk in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. During the 2011 lockout, the league and the players association agreed on a clause that allowed players on rookie contracts to earn a bonus on their next deal if they achieved certain honors. This is commonly known as the Derrick Rose Rule, a term our Tom Ziller coined back in 2011. (That's because Rose was the only eligible player the year the provision was enacted).

Normally, players can sign a rookie contract extension for up to 25 percent of the salary cap. However, if a player achieves the following honors during their first four years, they can be eligible for a deal starting at 30 percent of the cap instead. To be eligible, they must have either:

  1. Been named an All-Star starter twice
  2. Been named to one of the three All-NBA teams twice
  3. Been named MVP
Davis was an All-Star starter and all-NBA performer last year, but did not get voted to start the game this season. There's no chance he'll win MVP, so the only way he can earn the 30-percent bump is to be named to one of the three all-NBA teams this year. He'll likely be eligible as a forward, meaning he must compete with players like Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Draymond Green, Paul Millsap, Paul George and several others. (Of note: over the last two years, only DeMarcus Cousins made an all-NBA team while playing for a franchise that won fewer than 40 games. The Pelicans are already guaranteed to win fewer than 40 games this season).

Davis already signed a maximum contract extension last summer, but it won't kick in until next year. We won't know the exact difference between 25 and 30 percent until next year's salary cap is set in July, but based on a $90 million estimate, Davis' first-year salary could jump from $22.5 million to $27 million. That gap will only widen over the course of the contract, so the difference could be at least $24 million over the course of the next five years.

To get that additional money, Davis must count on the media, who votes on the all-NBA awards. But with his injuries, he won't have any more chances to impress them. He'll have to hope the voters remember his 59-point performance against the Pistons last month.