The loss of David West for the season due to a torn ACL injury was a devastating blow to a Hornets team that currently sits seventh in the Western Conference playoff picture. Head coach Monty Williams talked about it with the assembled media for the first time since the diagnosis became official Friday afternoon, as New Orleans prepared to take on the Suns in Phoenix.
“It was tough,” Williams said. “He’s one of my favorites, and became more of a favorite since I’ve been around the team. You just hate to see a guy put all of his energy and passion into the game, make the right play and come down and hurt himself like that and be done for the year. But he’s one of the toughest guys I’ve been around and he and his wife Leslie, they’ll get through this, and we’ll look forward to the future.”
Williams said that he (like the rest of us) had a bad feeling about the severity of West’s injury the moment he first saw it.
“I looked at the way he went down (Thursday) night and I just thought to myself, he’s probably not going to be back,” Williams said. “I’ve seen him get hurt so many times, and he usually gives me the thumbs up or I can look him in the eyes and tell whether or not it’s a bad one or he’s going to be back in a game or two.”
Without West, the Hornets will start Carl Landry, who hasn’t seen a single minute of court time replacing West in the lineup alongside the team’s other four regular starters. From there, at least initially, Williams seems to be ready to adjust on the fly.
“Carl’s going to start, and outside of that, we’re going to play it by ear,” Williams said. “Consequences and rotations and matchups will dictate the rest. But Jason (Smith) has got to be ready to play, David Andersen has got to be ready to play, and we may play some small ball to take advantage of our quickness.”
Williams is aware of the impact the loss of West is likely to have on his team. But he’s showing a confidence and toughness in the face of this adversity that the team should be able to rally around — as his closing comments on the matter would seem to suggest.
“Even though we’re all human, even though we all feel bad about the situation, we have jobs to do,” Williams said. “We’ve got to go out and play hard. The circumstances are what they are. We still get to play basketball. Nobody died. Last time I checked we all still get paid, so we’re going to go out there and play.”