VIDEO: Highlights from games played Oct. 21
NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Davis laments Pelicans’ injury woes — One of the first orders of business in the New Orleans Pelicans’ busy offseason was signing superstar Anthony Davis to a five-year, $145 million extension. From there, they re-signed several key players (Omer Asik, Alexis Ajinca, Dante Cunningham) and added some new faces (Nate Robinson, Kendrick Perkins). There was also a new coach in place (Alvin Gentry), starting point guard Jrue Holiday was expected to be healthy for the season and overall, New Orleans had grand plans for 2015-16. Injuries, however, have made that vision a little less clear — especially after news yesterday that combo guard Tyreke Evans will be out 6-8 weeks following arthroscopic knee surgery. Davis talked with ESPN.com’s Michael Wallace about the frustration of all these Pelicans injuries piling up:
New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis is concerned his team won’t be healthy and whole for several more months amid a slew of injuries that have already ravaged the roster as the season opener looms.
“It’s tough,” Davis told ESPN.com Wednesday. “Now with Tyreke going down, we won’t have our complete team until January sometime. … It’s tough because you’re coming in with high expectations, thinking everybody is healthy. And then, stuff happens.”
The injuries have been piling up around Davis almost from the moment the Pelicans opened training camp last month at a West Virginia resort. They’ve tempered some of the excitement and energy that surrounded the team under first-year coach Alvin Gentry, an assistant on the Warriors staff during their championship run last season who left to install his up-tempo playing style in New Orleans.
“That’s been the main thing that’s been a little bit frustrating,” Gentry said Wednesday. “I like our team. I think we have depth. We have not been able to put those guys out there together … there’s always somebody missing. We’ll just have to battle until we get the cavalry group back.”
Evans initially aggravated the knee just days into camp after colliding with a teammate. Since then, the Pelicans have lost starting center Omer Asik (calf strain), backup center Alexis Ajinca (hamstring), reserve guard Norris Cole (high ankle sprain) and forward Luke Babbitt (hamstring). Swingman Quincy Pondexter is reportedly out until November as he continues to recover from offseason knee surgery, and guard Jrue Holiday remains on a minutes restriction amid his comeback from a lower leg surgery.
Gentry does not believe the injuries are the result of players adjusting to his preferred playing style while pushing through camp. “In all honesty, it’s the easiest training camp I’ve ever run,” he said.
The shortage of healthy bodies has forced New Orleans to sign low-level free agents throughout camp, including the recent addition of veteran journeyman guard Nate Robinson.
“It’s basketball,” Davis said. “And we’ve just got to have guys step up and fill those shoes until everybody gets back. I’m going to try to adapt to whoever is on the floor.”
Davis is optimistic the team will come together strongly at some point. Until then, he accepts the added burden of keeping the Pelicans competitive through a tough stretch early in the regular season.
“Being the leader of the team, you’ve got to be able to pull guys in, whether [they’re] your starters or your role players,” Davis said. “You’ve got to be able to contribute some of the same things. And that’s what I’m trying to do, still be aggressive and find guys who can make plays and help us win.”