The New Orleans Pelicans had high aspirations for last season, yet they limped to a lackluster 30-win season. Two years ago, the Pelicans snuck their way into the playoffs as the eighth seed, and they will look to return to the playoffs once again in 2016-17.
New Orleans Pelicans Outlook for Next Season
Life Without Anderson, Gordon and now Holiday
The good news for the New Orleans Pelicans is that franchise cornerstone Anthony Davis has been given a clean bill of health, so he should be leading the team’s charge into the regular season in full pterodactyl mode. The Pelicans will surely need all of Davis they can get, as the team has been rocked by the defections of versatile big man Ryan Anderson and shooting guard Eric Gordon to the Houston Rockets.
The Pelicans will also be without starting point guard Jrue Holiday as he cares for his wife Lauren (an Olympic medalist in US Women’s soccer), who has been diagnosed with a brain tumor while pregnant. While Holiday understandably tends to his family while they attempt to persevere through an unthinkable tragedy, the NBA regular season still looms, and so the team must prepare to soldier on with their remaining squad.
No Stranger to Injuries
The New Orleans Pelicans are no strangers to scrambling to address a decimated lineup, having just endured a season in which regulars Omer Asik (14 games missed) and Tyreke Evans (25 games played!) were unable to help the team build upon its encouraging 2014-15 playoff appearance. They were able to find stopgap solutions like guards Norris Cole (who returns) and Ish Smith (who was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers mid-season), but ultimately they did not make the team competitive enough for a return visit to the playoffs.
New Additions to the Roster
Despite the regression, there is hope for the coming season. The Pelicans selected former Oklahoma Sooner Buddy Hield with their lottery pick. Evans and Asik should be ready to join Davis in the starting lineup. The organization was also able to find a bit of bench depth with the signings of former New York Knick Langston Galloway and erstwhile Chicago Bull E’Twaun Moore, both of whom served as spot starters for their previous employers.
Since Evans is in a contract year, there has been speculation that the Pelicans may want to trade him for the likes of the Sacramento Kings Rudy Gay or the Milwaukee Bucks Greg Monroe, both of whom seem to have worn out their respective welcomes on their current teams. But the sudden loss of Holiday could make the proposition of swapping out Evans for another team’s malcontent that could be a better fit for the Crescent City much less palatable.
For now, the New Orleans Pelicans may need to roll with what they have and see if they can rekindle the fire from 2014-15 by accelerating Hield’s acclimation to the league, hoping the new bench pieces fit in, and wishing Godspeed for Holiday and his family to get through their daunting life challenge.