Pelicans' Darius Miller Ruled out for NBA Restart Because of Achilles Injury

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJuly 6, 2020

New Orleans Pelicans forward Darius Miller (21) sets up for a shot during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Orlando Magic Wednesday, March 20, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

The New Orleans Pelicans announced Monday that wing Darius Miller has been ruled out of the NBA restart in Orlando as he recovers from right Achilles surgery.

"We are extremely encouraged with the progress Darius has made in his recovery process," the team's executive vice president of basketball operations, David Griffin, said in the press release. "The work he has put in both prior to and during these limited mandatory workouts has been remarkable. We look forward to seeing him back at full strength heading into the 2020-21 campaign."

Miller, 30, has missed the entirety of the 2019-20 season with the injury. He averaged 8.2 points and 2.1 assists in 69 games during the 2018-19 season, largely coming off the bench. 

He said on Saturday he's been in contact with DeMarcus Cousins, who dealt with the same injury in Jan. 2018, about the recovery process (h/t Christian Clark of NOLA.com):

"Everyone I talked to pretty much had the same message: It was going to be a long road. It was going to be tough. That was one of the reasons I tried to stay around the team as much as possible, just to stay involved and keep my mind off of things, stay in the team atmosphere. I feel like the team did a great job of helping me get through it. It was just little things like that, staying positive and attacking every day as if it's a game."

He also said Saturday that he wasn't yet able to play 5-on-5 or 3-on-3 to get a better idea of how far along he was in his recovery due to the NBA only allowing individual workouts.

"I spent a lot of time with [trainer] Mike [Guevara], and we did a lot of stuff outdoors at parks, at my house, just working out," he said. "I think the combination did a great job of helping me stay ready, as ready as I could be, without playing basketball."

Depth on the wing shouldn't be an issue for the Pelicans during the restart, with Brandon Ingram, Jrue Holiday, JJ Redick, Josh Hart and E'Twaun Moore capable of playing the role. The Pels had settled into a starting five of Zion Williamson, Lonzo Ball, Derrick Favors, Ingram and Holiday before the season was suspended in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Given the nature of Miller's injury and its long recovery period, Monday's news doesn't come as a major surprise. But the Pelicans are well suited to proceeding without him given their wing depth.