Alexis Ajinca Injury: Updates on Pelicans Center's Sternum and Return

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured Columnist

New Orleans Pelicans center Alexis Ajinca, of France, warms up before facing the Denver Nuggets in the third quarter of the Nuggets' 117-97 victory in an NBA basketball game in Denver on Friday, Nov. 21, 2014. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

New Orleans Pelicans center Alexis Ajinca suffered a fractured sternum and had been out since March 3. However, he has been cleared to return to the court.

Continue for updates.


Ajinca Active vs. Clippers

Sunday, March 20

The Pelicans announced Ajinca will be in uniform against the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday.


Ajinca Brings Value Beyond Box Score

The Pels signed Ajinca to a four-year contract this past offseason after two solid years in New Orleans as a reserve, but he's experienced some ups and downs this season in the midst of the team's overall struggles.

Ajinca missed the first few games of the season with a hamstring ailment, and it subsequently took some time for head coach Alvin Gentry to work him into the lineup on a regular basis, as evidenced by this tweet courtesy of ESPN's Kevin Pelton:

Per the Black and Blue Report (h/t Jim Eichenhofer of NBA.com), however, inconsistent playing time is something Ajinca became accustomed to during the 2014-15 campaign:

I think I was impressed at how I was able to bounce back after sometimes not playing at all. I (had instances where) I'd get 20 points, and then the next game I was back on the bench. It was always up and down, but I was able to bounce back and stay strong mentally. I think it was more being mentally prepared every time before the game.

The former 2008 then-Charlotte Bobcats' first-round pick was currently averaging 4.4 points and 4.0 rebounds this season before the injury, although he has never been one to put up big numbers as primarily a bench player.

Ajinca's value to the team goes beyond numbers, as his mere presence on the floor can alter the opposition's game plan at times.

With Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson battling injuries, Ajinca's return is a welcomed sight for the Pelicans.

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

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