Another day, another injury report for the New Orleans Pelicans.
Tyreke Evans is the latest sidelined Pelican. The 6-foot-6 guard will have a knee examined, coach Alvin Gentry said, and will not play in Saturday’s exhibition game against the Sacramento Kings in Lexington, Kentucky.
“We’re just gonna get his knee checked out,” Gentry said. “It’s not any big thing. We’ll get an opinion and see what they think. He had a little soreness in it. We’ll just have it checked out and see what’ll happen from there.”
Evans is the Pelicans’ third prospective point guard to deal with injury this preseason. Starter Jrue Holiday is limited to about 10 minutes per game while he recovers from a stress reaction in his right leg. Backup Norris Cole is out indefinitely with a high ankle sprain.
That’s just the tip of the injury iceberg for the Pels, who also are without their top two centers, starter Omer Asik (calf strain) and backup Alexis Ajinca (hamstring strain). Reserve forward Luke Babbitt is out indefinitely with a hamstring strain.
Evans played a career-high 79 games last season, averaging 16.6 points, 5.3 rebounds and 6.6 assists per game.
Evans sat out the Pelicans’ preseason opener with a right knee contusion, which he and Gentry said was a precautionary move. In two preseason games since, Evans has averaged 17.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 24.1 minutes per game.
The Pelicans moved to shore up the backcourt this week, signing free agents Nate Robinson and Bo McCalebb.
Pain-free, but patient
That right leg that plagued Holiday last season and is restricting his minutes this preseason feels great, he said on Friday.
So great that it’s getting harder to stand the limits on his minutes.
“I want to cuss the trainers out every day, just for the fact that my leg feels good and I want to do more,” Holiday said. “Even in practice if I see my team going hard in competition, I want to be part of that. The first 10 minutes of the game seems like it goes by so quick, and then I have the second, third and the fourth quarter to kind of fall back and become more of a cheerleader and observe. As a competitor you want to be out there on the court.”
Holiday has no input into his minutes. The Pelicans’ medical staff will make determinations as to when he’s allowed to play beyond 10 minutes a game.
“Obviously it was up to me I’d be playing until I couldn’t go anymore, which probably isn’t the best for me, but that’s just how I am,” Holiday said. “It does get frustrating, especially when you feel so good, but obviously in the long run knowing that in the last two seasons I haven’t played past January, or mid-January, it is the right thing.”
Big men on campus
When the Pelicans take on the Kings Saturday at Rupp Arena, it will be a reunion of sorts for the Pels’ Anthony Davis and the Kings’ DeMarcus Cousins and Willie Cauley-Stein.
Though the big men weren’t teammates at Kentucky, all three played there under John Calipari before their NBA careers.
“You go to Kentucky or Memphis or UMass or wherever Cal coached, you always have that brotherhood, no matter what,” Davis said. “(Cousins) is like a brother to me. We talk all the time.”
Davis doesn’t know Cauley-Stein as well, but did have a conversation with the rookie after the Wildcats played LSU last season in Baton Rouge.
“He said that he wants to be a good player, he wants to go to the NBA and be successful,” Davis said. “I just told him, ‘This is where it starts. You got to dominate in college and show people why you should be in the league.”
The Pelicans on Friday waived centers Mirza Begi? and Jerome Jordan, free agents the team had signed in the past week. New Orleans currently has 19 players on its preseason roster and can carry a maximum of 15 into opening night on Oct. 27.