Pelicans say Jason Smith is out for the season

Pelicans’ top center had arthroscopic surgery Wednesday

Center Jason Smith, who had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Wednesday, will be out for the rest of the season, the Pelicans announced Monday night before their game against San Antonio in the New Orleans Arena.

The surgery removed a loose piece of cartilage. Smith had said Monday morning after the team’s shoot-around that he didn’t know when he would return.

“They went in, they cleaned up the knee, best I know,” he said. “I came out of surgery (and) I felt better. I just have to listen to the doctors to really get some reassurance on what’s going on. But far as I know, everything went well, and I’m on the road to recovery now.”

Smith, a six-year veteran who in his fourth season with New Orleans and is the team’s longest-tenured player, said doctors hadn’t specified when he’d return.

Backup center Greg Stiemsma said the team will miss Smith’s toughness and versatility. Smith was known for his aggressive style in the lane despite the slender build on his 7-foot frame. In 31 games, he averaged 9.7 points, 5.8 rebounds and 0.9 blocks in 26.8 minutes.

“He is an athletic guy who can play center and power forward,” Stiemsma said. “He can shoot the ball, rebound, block shots, runs well.”

Smith said he injured the knee Jan. 15 vs. Houston, his most recent game. He played 28 minutes and 22 seconds, getting 10 points and five rebounds.

“It wasn’t a tear or anything, but it just felt different,” he said. “It felt (like) something was a little bit out of place. I didn’t think it was all that bad. So we got the scans and everything, and had to go in an clean it up.”

Smith earlier had missed three games, from Dec. 21-27, with a knee injury.

“That was completely something different,” he said. “That was just a thigh bruise, but that was a completely different pain.”

One game after Smith returned from that injury, he missed four games with a left shoulder strain. He returned to play in six games before suffering the cartilage injury.

And last season, he missed 17 games with a torn labrum in his right shoulder.

Smith said the knee injury won’t deter from playing his physical style.

“That’s the way I know how to play,” he said. “I go out there with a lot of energy. That’s just me as a competitor. I think I’m best when I’m out there competing as hard as I can.”