Pelicans’ forward Trey Murphy III suffered a meniscus injury to his left knee during a workout and is set to undergo further testing, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. At this time, there is no indication whether or not the Pelicans’ 2021 first-round pick will require surgery.
New Orleans has high hopes for Murphy entering into his third season, as he’s expected to once again play a significant role in the starting lineup. The 23-year-old emerged as a standout player last season in New Orleans, playing 31 minutes per game, contributing 14.5 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.1 steals and 0.5 blocks, while shooting 48.4% from the floor and 40.6% from three-point range.
That is to say, Murphy was one of only six NBA players last season who made 200 triples and shot above 40%+ from distance. Since the Pelicans will likely be without Murphy for the start of the 2023-2024 season, the young squad may struggle with spacing, as there are not too many other shooting options on the wing. The team will have to rely on versatile role players Herbert Jones (33.5 3P%), Naji Marshall (30.3 3P%), and Dyson Daniels (31.4 3P%).
While the organization awaits further evaluation, there is uncertainty in how long Murphy will be out, as the estimated time for recovery will depend largely on whether surgery is needed. Based on previous cases, if the tear is minor and treated non-surgically, he could potentially return in four to eight weeks.
However, if surgery is necessary, then recovery can take anywhere from three to six months. Some current notable NBA players that have endured a similar injury include: Chris Paul (2010), Derrick Rose (2013), Kevin Durant (2016), Jimmy Butler (2018), Zion Williamson (2019), Collin Sexton (2021), Joel Embiid (2021), and Lonzo Ball (2022).
Then looking at the most recent related occurrence, in April at the end of last season, Clippers’ superstar Kawhi Leonard had a meniscus injury to his right knee during a first round playoff series vs. the Phoenix Suns. According to president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank, Leonard had a “cleanup” procedure on his torn meniscus at the start of June and was on a eight-week recovery timetable. This means that Leonard is on track to be cleared in time for training camp in October.
With that being said, any amount of time missed by Murphy will be a big blow to a Pelicans team that can’t quite seem to shake the injury bug. For instance, Brandon Ingram missed 37 games last season due to injury. And 23-year-old superstar Williamson, who also tore his meniscus to start his rookie year in 2019, has appeared in less than half of the games throughout his career due to injuries.