NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A rash of injuries have more than limited the New Orleans Pelicans’ ability to use trades to strengthen All-Star Anthony Davis’ supporting cast by this Thursday’s NBA deadline for making a deal.
The club’s lack of roster continuity has even made it tough for the Pelicans’ brass to get a good grasp on who should go and who should stay.
“I still don’t think we’ve had a true evaluation of our team and what that team actually is,” said Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry, who has used 24 different starting lineups this season. “So that gets to be a little bit tough when you’re dealing in any kind of situation as far as trying to improve your team, or, ‘What do you do?’ Or, ‘What do you need.’
“All of those things are still questions that are up in the air, because we haven’t had a group together that we anticipated having for one single day.”
The Pelicans are currently 20-33, sitting 6 ½ games out of the Western Conference’s final playoff spot with 29 games remaining, starting Friday night at home against Philadelphia.
So far, Pelicans players have missed a combined 154 games because of injuries. Quincy Pondexter, who likely would have started at small forward, has missed the entire season because of micro fracture surgery that did not heal properly.
Starting shooting guard Tyreke Evans played 25 games - and was one of the Pelicans’ leading scorers, before nagging right knee problems forced him to have season-ending surgery last week.
Starting shooting guard Eric Gordon, who has missed 12 games, is in the fourth week of an estimated four- to six-week absence because of a broken finger.
Jrue Holiday, a former Eastern Conference All-Star, has been serving in a reserve role this season, which he has spent on minute restrictions after missing much of the past two seasons with a lower right leg injury.
Currently, the most tradable asset on New Orleans’ roster appears to be 27-year-old, 6-foot-10 forward Ryan Anderson, an adept 3-point shooter who has improved his interior scoring during the past two seasons and is averaging 16.7 points and 5.9 rebounds. He also has an expiring contract. But the Pelicans also have an interested in keeping him, because they would have his “Larry Bird” rights, which allows teams to go over the salary cap to retain their own free agents.
Gordon, who averages 14.9 points, also has an expiring contract, but his recent injury history could be deterrent to potential suitors.
The Pelicans also could trade their first-round draft choice, but the question is whether they want to deal a pick that could very well wind up in the NBA’s draft lottery.
Pelicans general manager Dell Demps is declining all interview requests until after Thursday afternoon’s trade deadline. But when the season began, he asserted heading into the season that he believed in the Pelicans’ current core.
Utah Jazz coach Quinn Snyder, whose team lost in New Orleans last week, said he empathized with the challenges Gentry and Demps have faced with injuries this season.
“One of the hard things about it is, people just forget,” said Snyder, who worked with Demps when Snyder coached the Austin Toros of the NBA Development League and Demps was Toros GM and player personnel director with the affiliated San Antonio Spurs. “You forget how much having those guys hurt just impacts everything.”
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