Pelicans Rookie E.J. Liddell Diagnosed with Torn ACL After Summer League Knee Injury

Erin WalshJuly 12, 2022

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 9: E.J. Liddell  #32 handles the ball during the game during the game against the Portland Trail Blazers during the 2022 Las Vegas Summer League on July 9, 2022 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

New Orleans Pelicans rookie E.J. Liddell suffered a torn ACL in his right knee and will be sidelined indefinitely, the franchise announced Tuesday.

Liddell suffered the injury during the third quarter of Monday's Las Vegas Summer League game against the Atlanta Hawks.

Liddell fell to the court holding his leg in the third quarter before being helped off. The Pelicans initially labeled the injury as a knee sprain.

Before suffering the torn ACL, the 21-year-old had to be helped off the court during the second quarter with discomfort in his right knee. He was cleared to return after halftime and didn't appear to be in any pain.

In two summer league games, Liddell averaged 4.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists.

The Pelicans selected Liddell in the second round of the 2022 NBA draft out of Ohio State. During his third season with the Buckeyes in 2021-22, he averaged 19.4 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.6 blocks in 32 games while shooting 49.0 percent from the floor and 37.4 percent from deep.

Pelicans general manager Trajan Langdon couldn't believe Liddell fell out of the first round.

"We didn't think E.J. was going to be there at 41 at all," Langdon said on draft night, per John Fanta of Fox Sports. "For us, that was a huge get. To put up 2.5 blocks per game [this past season] at his size is amazing. He's a physical player, a high-level competitor and a high-level man."

Liddell's injury is a tough blow to New Orleans' 2022 rookie class. The team's first-round pick, Dyson Daniels, also suffered a sprained ankle Saturday, and it's unclear when he might return.

The Pelicans' summer league team will be back in action Wednesday against the Washington Wizards.