The Pelicans, coming off a breakthrough playoff appearance, are keeping the band together.
They’ve re-signed Omer Asik, Alexis Ajinca and Dante Cunningham.
Add Luke Babbitt to the list – with Alonzo Gee joining him in New Orleans.
Marc Stein of ESPN:
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
These are only slightly above minimum contracts – or maybe even minimum deals with generous rounding. So, don’t expect either player to move the needle too much. Everything starts and ends with Anthony Davis.
But Babbitt has a chance to contribute as a stretch four in Alvin Gentry’s spread offense. That would mean more minutes for Davis at center, another plus.
Gee provides length on defense, which could help New Orleans switch more often (a la Gentry’s old team, the Warriors).
Fresh off winning a championship as an assistant with the Warriors, Alvin Gentry was finally officially introduced Monday morning as the next head coach of the Pelicans. His uptempo offensive style should be a great fit with the Pelicans’ roster, and he gets the opportunity to coach the league’s fastest-rising star in
Luke Babbitt Anthony Davis. Gentry made his excitement known at his introductory press conference.
From the Times-Picayune‘s John Reid:
With emerging star power forward Anthony Davis in the fold, Gentry said the Pelicans roster has tremendous potential and he is eager to get started.
”We got the best player in the NBA, not named LeBron James,” Gentry said. ”But I’m really excited. I look at the roster and I lot of these guys I have a special relationship with.”
He’s not exactly wrong. The other player in that discussion is Kevin Durant, but he missed most of the 2014-15 season with a foot injury. If he’s healthy, he’s probably still the second-best player in the NBA. But taking into account age (Davis is 22) and untapped potential, there’s nobody in the league that any coach should be more excited to get to work with than Davis.
New Orleans coach Monty Williams liked the idea of Tyreke Evans as the sixth man again this season — a guy who could come in off the bench and just change the dynamic of the game with his scoring. Like Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford does for the Clippers.
Evans is going to start at the three spot when the Pelicans tip off the season.
It’s not official yet, but it will be soon according to Nakia Hogan of the Times-Picayune.
After three preseason games with less than stellar production from the three players – Darius Miller, Luke Babbitt and John Salmons – originally competing for the starting small forward spot, the Pelicans are closing in on moving Tyreke Evans, who practiced for the first time on Saturday after recovering from a strained hamstring suffered this offseason, into the starting lineup.
“Tyreke right now in my head, that’s where he is going to play (at small forward),” Williams said.
That’s great… if Evans can stay healthy. Williams talks about playing him 30 minutes a night, but Evans will not play on Tuesday as he continues to get over a hamstring strain. (To be fair, Evans played 72 games last season.)
Evans at the three always seemed the logical end of the road for the Pelicans this season, even if they are left looking for more off the bench (watch Ryan Anderson to step up). Evans is just the best fit there, next to Eric Gordon at the two.
Evans is undersized for the three spot in the NBA and that is going to lead to teams trying to exploit him in the post — that’s where having the long arms of Anthony Davis as the help defender. Plus, as Williams notes, those bigger guys then have to deal with Evans in transition and out on the wing on the pick-and-roll.
Babbitt, Salmons and Miller will come off the bench, likely one of them a lot more than the other two.