It’s a three-game road trip. Tyreke Evans, optimistically, is packing two suits.
The Pelicans guard — who has yet to play this season after arthroscopic surgery on his right knee last month — hopes to be in uniform and on the court when the Pelicans face the Suns on Wednesday in Phoenix. Evans said it likely will be a gametime decision.
If he’s not ready then, Evans hopes he’ll be out of street clothes later in a three-game swing that features games against the Clippers in Los Angeles on Friday and the Jazz on Saturday in Salt Lake City.
“I’m gonna take two (suits) just in case,” Evans said. “I might have to reverse one of them, (wear) some different jeans under it or something. Hopefully it won’t be that.”
Evans went through a full practice Monday, he said, but had a lighter day by design Tuesday. The Pelicans medical staff wanted him to take it easy the day after his first full workout.
Though Evans said he had “a pep in my step” at practice and felt better than he did in the preseason before he had his knee scoped, he was sore Tuesday. The next step was Tuesday’s trip to Phoenix.
If Evans made it through the flight without significant swelling and if he feels good Wednesday, he’ll likely play.
“There’s no reason to rush right now,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. “When the time comes, we’ll put him in and see how it goes, but not do anything that’s gonna take any risk at all.”
The 6-foot-6 Evans, who averaged 16.6 points, 6.6 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game last season, has targeted Wednesday as his earliest possible return and said he’s confident he’ll be back by next Tuesday’s home game against the Memphis Grizzlies.
“Hopefully I can get to play on this road trip,” Evans said. “But if not, for sure when we get back home. I can’t take no more.”
Up in the air
Whenever Evans returns, he’ll impact a number of Gentry’s rotation decisions — including, theoretically, how the Pelicans use point guard Jrue Holiday.
Holiday, who is recovering from a stress reaction in his right leg, remains on a minutes restriction and is unable to play in games on back-to-back nights. Lately, the Pelicans have played Holiday in the home half of back-to-back games.
With a road back-to-back this week, Gentry will have to decide whether to play Holiday on Friday at the Clippers or Saturday at the Jazz.
“He and Tyreke now are both going to be kind of on limited minutes,” Gentry said. “We’ll just have to see how that works out, how best we can juggle that and make it beneficial for the team.”
Time will come
The biggest Pelicans have seen their minutes shrink, but Gentry insists that there will come a time when the team relies on centers Omer Asik and Alexis Ajinca.
Ajinca has played less than 10 minutes seven times this season and didn’t play at all in the Pelicans’ home win against the Suns on Sunday. Asik started that game but played just 14 minutes. He’s logged fewer than 15 minutes each of the past three games in each of the past three games he’s played.
Asik is averaging 15.7 minutes per game, Asik 12.2. But some of that, Gentry said, is because so many of the teams the Pelicans have played this season, including Atlanta (twice) and Phoenix, play with small-ball lineups and create matchup problems.
“We’re going to be playing Memphis soon, and I guarantee you, we’ll need those guys,” Gentry said. “And Houston. There’s a lot of teams. Minnesota with the young kid (Karl-Anthony Towns) and Philly with the young, big, strong kid (Jahlil Okafor). So there’s a lot of situations where they fit in.”