The Pelicans' already-thinning front line took another hit Thursday, when the team announced that starting center Omer Asik is expected to miss three weeks with a right calf strain.
That timeline would have Asik on the court in time for the Pelicans' regular-season opener at Golden State on Oct. 27.
Asik is the second Pelicans center to suffer an injury in training camp, joining backup Alexis Ajinca, who the team announced on Monday is out four to six weeks with a right hamstring strain.
After Ajinca's injury, coach Alvin Gentry said the Pelicans likely would experiment with a variety of small lineups to make up for his absence. With Asik also sidelined, the Pelicans are likely to go small even more frequently, playing more lineups with Anthony Davis at center.
"It doesn't matter what position I play," Davis said Monday. "Played some center last year when me and Ryan (Anderson) was in the game. It doesn't matter. I just go out there and play basketball."
The absence of Asik – who skipped playing for his native Turkey in Eurobasket 2015 this summer due to back spasms – could mean an increased role for veteran Kendrick Perkins, signed as a free agent in the offseason.
The 7-foot, 250-pound Asik is entering his sixth NBA season and is averaging 5.9 points and 7.7 rebounds per game in his career. Last season he started in all 76 games he played for the Pelicans, averaging 7.3 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. After the season he signed a five-year, $58 million contract extension.
The Pelicans play the Atlanta Hawks Friday night in Jacksonville, Fla., in their second of seven preseason games.