There were many areas for Alvin Gentry to focus on when trying to sum up the struggles of his team’s 0-2 start.
But the Pelicans head coach admitted much of it stems from point guard, and the lack of experience at his disposal.
In an attempt to shore up the struggles at the position, New Orleans jettisoned 11-year veteran Nate Robinson on Wednesday to add free agent Toney Douglas, who was waived by the Indiana Pacers earlier this week.
Gentry hopes Douglas can help shore up a backcourt that was torched by Golden State’s Stephen Curry (41 points) and Portland’s C.J. McCollum (37) on consecutive nights. Tyreke Evans (knee) and Norris Cole (ankle) are likely to miss the remainder of the month, and starter Jrue Holiday is still limited to 20 minutes per night because of a medical restriction while he recovers from a lingering stress reaction in his right leg.
“As far as the point guard thing, it’s unfortunate, but the point guard is really important in this system,” Gentry said. “To have limited minutes for Jrue and just brining in new guys, it just takes a toll on you.”
The confluence of those events caused New Orleans to lean on Ish Smith, who was added on Oct. 26 following his waiver by the Washington Wizards. Despite only practicing once with the Pelicans, Smith logged an average of 33.5 minutes and 13.5 field goal attempts per game — third-most on the team — in the pair of losses.
“It’s just kind of what it is and isn’t anybody’s fault,” Gentry said. “It’s just that it happened at the most inopportune time for us, so we just have to try to patch it up and do whatever we can until our guys are healthy.”
Douglas may not necessarily be the elixir, but could help provide a bit of what the Pelicans need.
After playing 177 minutes for the Pelicans in the latter stages of the 2014-15 season and receiving praise from former coach Monty Williams for his defensive aggression, Douglas wasn’t retained by New Orleans this offseason. Instead he signed a non-guaranteed deal with Indiana where he averaged 6.6 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists in five preseason games, including a 15-point outing against Detroit.
But he found himself looking for a roster spot earlier this week before returning to New Orleans.
“It’s very attractive, obviously,” Douglas said. “Everyone wants to play but now I’ve got to out there and produce and play and take advantage of the opportunity when I’m out there.”
On the mend
The Pelicans could see the return of starting center Omer Asik and reserve forward Luke Babbitt on Saturday.
Both have been sidelined with leg injuries for the past few weeks, but Gentry said each will get a look from the training staff before the 6:30 p.m. tipoff against Golden State at the Smoothie King Center, and if both feel well and look right, they could be on the floor.
“We’ll let them work out and see,” Gentry said. “We anticipate maybe being able to play a bit, but that’s not a definite by any stretch of the imagination.”
Golden State isn’t unblemished on its injury report either.
Starting center Andrew Bogut will miss Saturday’s game in New Orleans because of concussion protocols that were required after he collided with Pelicans’ forward Dante Cunningham on Tuesday night in Oracle Arena.
Cunningham was also checked for signs of concussion but was cleared to play the next night. Meanwhile, Bogut will miss at least two games and publicly took to Twitter to express his frustration with Cunningham.
“Basketball or soccer yesterday,?” Bogut tweeted. “Was he going for a header or….?”
Saturday’s home opener in the Smoothie King Center is officially sold out, according to the team. ... Injured forward Quincy Pondexter didn’t participate in the preseason while recovering from offseason knee cartilage surgery, but was able to perform basketball-related drills on Thursday afternoon. His return date is still unknown. ... Point guard Tyreke Evans also went out to the court on Thursday and took shots in a stationary positions. He’s recovering from last week’s arthroscopic surgery and is not expected to return until December.