The question was simple enough — “How’s your health?” — and Jrue Holiday had to know it was coming.
But if you had any doubt as to the importance of the Pelicans point guard’s answer, you only needed to watch his teammates react when the question came up at Thursday’s introduction of the Pels’ new Mardi Gras uniforms.
Quincy Pondexter turned to watch Holiday answer. So did Anthony Davis.
“It’s like that, huh?” Holiday said with a smile as Davis and Pondexter stared. “OK, that’s cool. I feel good. I’m out here grinding with these guys. Obviously my time is limited, but it’s all to play in June. That’s what it’s all about. So I’m here for the long haul.”
If the Pelicans have any hope of a deep run in the NBA playoffs — and they break huddles, Davis said, with “1, 2, 3, June!” — they’re likely going to need a big year from the seventh-year point guard.
Holiday, who missed 42 games in 2014-15 with a lower right leg injury, said he’ll be “on the court” when the Pelicans open preseason camp Sept. 29 at The Greenbrier in White Sulfur Springs, West Virginia, but he will have a minutes restriction.
“It’s all about gradually getting me into it,” Holiday said. “This summer, it was all about nursing my leg and not feeling pain. We kind of got this plan where it’s just going to be a progressive thing, but from the start of practice I’m going to be on the court.”
Holiday said he plans to be on the court for the Pelicans’ preseason opener at Indiana on Oct. 3.
“There is no pain,” Holiday said. “But we don’t want it to come back, either.”
So the Pelicans have a plan, Holiday said, to gradually increase his minutes over the course of camp. He’ll be tested to determine “how much pounding” the leg is taking during practice, he said, and based on that, the Pelicans will determine his minutes restriction.
And though Holiday won’t be ready to go all out all the time, he’s ready to pick up the pace in new coach Alvin Gentry’s up-tempo system when camp opens.
“I’m going to be restricted, but I can still play fast,” Holiday said. “It’ll just be a minutes restriction. I’m going to give it my all for the minutes that I have.”
The Pelicans’ new look has some old-school flavor.
The uniforms the team unveiled at Mardis Gras World on Thursday — short-sleeved adidas jerseys and shorts in purple with gold and green accents — will be the franchise’s first Mardis Gras alternates since its last season as the New Orleans Hornets in 2012-13.
“I’m kind of mad it cuts off the guns we’ve been working on all summer,” Pondexter said, glancing toward the sleeves around his biceps. “We’ve been working (too) hard all summer to get them cut off. But these jerseys are awesome.”
By NBA rules, the Pelicans were permitted only two jerseys — one home and one road — in their inaugural season after the name change, and have been allowed to add one each season since, Director of Basketball Communications Matt Ryan said. Last season they added red alternates.
The Pelicans are permitted an extra alternate for this season’s Christmas Day game at Miami.
The Pelicans announced a multi-year deal with iHeart Media New Orleans to broadcast games on WRNO-FM, 99.5.
Play-by-play announcer Sean Kelley, beginning his 11th season, and analyst John DeShazier, entering his fourth, will remain on the broadcasts. Victor Howell will serve as an alternate analyst for some regular-season games.
The deal includes pregame and postgame shows, plus Gentry’s weekly coach’s show. Daniel Sallerson will provide pregame, halftime and postgame updates from the radio studio at the Smoothie King Center.