The Pelicans are a quarter of the way through their season.
But in some ways, they’re hitting the reset button.
Not only is New Orleans adding new players — Tyreke Evans and Norris Cole have been back for five games after missing the first 17; Kendrick Perkins retruned to activity Friday night — but the team is making some strategic changes.
Coach Alvin Gentry has gone back to the drawing (up plays) board this week as the Pelicans attempt to dig out of an early season hole.
“You have these thoughts in your mind what you want to do and you’ve been somewhat successful doing it that way,” Gentry said before Friday’s game against the Washington Wizards. “But I also think that sometimes you have to make a little adjustment to the personnel that you have, and we’re trying to do that.”
That doesn’t necessarily mean drastic changes. But Gentry said on Thursday that he’d gone back to watch plays that worked for Evans last season and implemented some of them into New Orleans’ new scheme.
Those might not be the only changes.
“We still want to be a running team, we want to be an up-tempo team,” Gentry said. “But then sometimes you may have to all of a sudden change and have a few set plays that you would normally not have until everything is in and you can adjust.”
The Pelicans have “been doing a lot of changing, to be honest,” guard Eric Gordon said.
Gordon said Gentry’s pace-and-space offense — a variation on the system Mike D’Antoni brought to Phoenix and that Steve Kerr adapted last season in Golden State — is “a tough system” for players whose skills don’t suit it.
“That’s a system where everybody’s got to be able to create, shoot,” Gordon said. “You’ve got to be a shooter in that system. You’ve got to do some adjusting, for sure.”
And Gentry is willing to do that.
“We’re not changing our philosophy of the way we want to play and what we want to do,” Gentry said. “But we also have to take under consideration what’s best for the players.”
Pelicans forward Ryan Anderson missed Friday’s game with an illness. His status for Saturday’s game at Chicago was unclear.
Before Friday night, Anderson — who has been the subject of trade reports and rumors — was one of five Pelicans who had not missed a game this season.
“He’s got a little virus or a little flu,” Gentry said. “Nothing to be concerned about other than he’s in a little pain, and then we got to check it out to make sure nothing is contagious.”
Perkins was available for action Friday night for the first time since Nov. 3, and his quick return from a torn right pectoral muscle is a testament to his hard work, Gentry said.
“For a guy who supposedly may have had a season-ending injury, he’s worked his way back,” Gentry said. “He’s been really good. He’s been diligent in what he’s doing and he’s shown great work ethic to the other guys.”
Perkins originally was expected to miss up to three months.
“About two weeks ago, really, was when I first started jumping in and out of practice and getting physical contact and stuff like that,” Perkins said. “I was like, ‘I feel like I can play right now.’ ”