Chris Douglas-Roberts still is fiery. He just has less fury.
The seventh-year swingman, who’s in camp with the New Orleans Pelicans on a two-year, non-guaranteed contract, still feels like he has something to prove in the NBA. But he takes a more mellow approach to proving it.
“It’s just a different energy I have now,” Douglas-Roberts said Wednesday. “I still have a great chip on my shoulder. I still believe in my ability. But it’s not as much anger as it was. When I came out (of college at Memphis), I was a first-team All-American, top-five player in the country, and got drafted second round. So I carried a little bit of bitterness and anger just from that.”
But the Douglas-Roberts trying to earn a roster spot with the Pelicans is a kinder, gentler version. He feels no pressure, he said. He’s switched to a vegan diet. His post-practice routine includes reading and regular meditation – “Zen master stuff,” he said – sitting with his legs crossed and clearing all thought from his mind.
“That really works for me, because this is a crazy business and just a crazy lifestyle,” Douglas-Roberts said. “You can kind of get caught up and you can get lost in the sauce, so to speak. I just like peace and quiet. I like to get in tune with myself and Mother Nature and the universe.”
As relaxed as Douglas-Roberts can be on the court, he’s looking for high-octane action on it. He wanted to play for the Pelicans in part because of new coach Alvin Gentry’s offensive system, which pushes the pace, puts a premium on increased possessions and provides freedom to wing players.
Douglas-Roberts scored 10 points in 21 minutes in the Pelicans’ preseason opener at Indiana.
“The great thing about coach Gentry is he respects my game and knows it, too,” Douglas-Roberts said. “That’s a big thing when you’re in the league. You might have a coach, he may be a head coach and he may get paid a whole lot of money, but he doesn’t really know his players. So (Gentry) knows, and that’s the reason I’m here.”
Douglas-Roberts has spent parts of six seasons in the league, averaging 7.1 points per game in his career, but never has played more than 67 games in any season. He played six games with Dallas in 2012-13 and 12 last season with the Clippers, the last in January, before he was waived.
But Douglas-Roberts, who said he had a partially torn Achilles tendon and turf toe last year, said he’s healthy now, and finished trying to fit his game into a specific style of play.
He wants to be a scorer in a free-flowing offense, and he thinks New Orleans is the spot for it.
“I’ve seen everything you could see in this league,” he said. “I don’t even know if this is my seventh year or eighth year. But everything that I have gone through — the ups and downs, it’s a lot of things people don’t know — I’m very grateful for.”
Anthony Davis played a little less than 16 minutes in the Pelicans’ preseason opener. Eric Gordon played a little more than 22.
Those light workloads won’t last as the Pelicans work their way through preseason, Gentry said.
New Orleans will play its second preseason game Friday against the Atlanta Hawks in Jacksonville, Florida, and while the starters’ minutes might not dramatically increase then, they will steadily rise as the preseason wears on.
Tyreke Evans didn’t play at all in the opener with a knee contusion. Starting point guard Jrue Holiday, whose minutes are restricted as he recovers from a stress reaction in his right leg, played 9½ minutes.
But the Pelicans’ healthy stars will see a gradual increase before the preseason ends with an Oct. 23 home game against the Miami Heat.
“Probably the last two or three games they’ll get more minutes,” Gentry said. “The last couple of games they’ll get pretty much regular-season minutes so that we can kind of get our rotations down and try to work on the timing and everything and guys getting familiar with each other.”
When the Pelicans shot skeet last week in West Virginia — an escape from the monotony of training camp — Corey Webster seemed an unlikely candidate to be on target.
Turns out, the New Zealand native, who’s among the players fighting for a roster spot with the Pelicans, was a natural. He hit 25 of 30 targets, Gentry said, a number that’s all the more impressive considering the 6-foot-2 guard’s background.
Webster had “never shot a gun in my life,” he said.
“It was the first time I’ve ever done it,” Webster said. “I guess it was just beginner’s luck. Maybe just a good eye for shooting.”