And another one bites the dust.
The Atlanta Hawks suffered another huge blow to their roster as reserve center Gustavo Ayon had season-ending surgery yesterday on his right shoulder.
Ayon is the third member of the Hawks to have their season cut short by a surgery; all-star center Al Hoford was lost to a torn pectoral muscle on December 31, while second-year shooting guard John Jenkins had lower back surgery on February 3 following several weeks of nerve pain.
According to an official news release from the organization, Ayon’s “surgery was performed at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta by Dr. Xavier Duralde and accompanied by Hawks Team Physician Dr. Michael Bernot from the Peachtree Orthopaedic Clinic.”
Ayon has been out since February 18, when he injured his shoulder in a game against the Pacers. He appeared in 26 games total, including 14 starts, for Atlanta this year and finished the season with averages of 4.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.0 blocks in 16.5 minutes per game.
Ayon is in the final year of a three-year contract and will be an unrestricted free agent after this season is over. The Hawks can make him a restricted free agent by making a qualifying offer worth $1.875 million. His salary this season was $1.5 million.
Atlanta already had a thin frontcourt with Horford gone, along with backup center Pero Antic and starting power forward Paul Millsap battling short-term injuries, which makes the news of losing Ayon even worse.
The Hawks have been relying on fourth-stringer Elton Brand, who is in his 15th NBA season, to fill the void at center, and recently signed 2013 second-round draft pick in 6’11” Mike Muscala after buying out his Spanish league contract to add some much-needed depth.
Atlanta still has a $5.15 million trade exception — which they got for Horford’s injury — they could use to add another big man or wing player by March 10. However, it seems unlikely the team will use the exception unless an intriguing player becomes available on the buyout market.