As new Pelicans signee Nate Robinson finished his media interviews Friday, Jrue Holiday was about to start.
As their paths crossed, Holiday smiled and said to Robinson, “You got more energy than anybody.”
That’s pretty much the plan.
With a roster plagued by injuries, the New Orleans Pelicans officially signed the 5-foot-9 Robinson — who has averaged 11.1 points and 3.0 assists per game over a 10-year NBA career — in part to provide some of that seemingly boundless energy.
“I’m gonna give New Orleans my heart and my soul and do what I do best, which is bring that energy, get the crowd involved and play with a big smile on my face like I always do,” Robinson said. “I’m ready to play — play hard.”
Robinson has averaged double-digit scoring in seven seasons, including a run of four straight from 2006-2010, playing primarily for the New York Knicks. Last season, he averaged 5.7 points in 42 games for the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers.
Over the course of his career, he has mostly provided a spark off the bench — he has started 106 of 616 career games — but Robinson is ready to fill any role the Pelicans need.
And the team has some needs in the backcourt.
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.
Tyreke Evans, who also can play the point, is having a knee examined and will miss Saturday’s preseason game against the Sacramento Kings in Lexington, Kentucky.
“I think he’s just a really good player,” coach Alvin Gentry said of Robinson. “I think he’s shown that in this league.”
Robinson “almost single-handedly won games,” Gentry said, for the Chicago Bulls in 2012-13 when point guard Derrick Rose was injured. In 12 playoff games that season, Robinson averaged 16.3 points.
“Obviously he brings energy, he brings a lot of scoring, he brings a lot of intensity,” Holiday said. “I feel like that’s what we need on the team.”
Robinson said he’s “a fast learner” and that he anticipates picking up Gentry’s system quickly. He’s ready to play Saturday if need be and said Gentry told him just to “play your game.”
“If I’m doing too much, he’ll let me know,” Robinson said. “That’s always a comfortable conversation to have, when a coach comes in to tell you to be yourself. It’s no pressure. I can come in and help them out a lot by just being Nate Robinson. Hopefully I can do that.”