Ryan Anderson needn’t have worried about Thursday’s NBA trade deadline. The Pelicans forward made it past the 2 p.m. end of the trade period without being dealt.
Turns out it wasn’t the most urgent matter on his mind anyway.
Anderson was among a group of Pelicans players, coaches and front-office representatives to fly to Oklahoma City on Thursday to attend the funeral of Ingrid Williams, wife of former New Orleans coach Monty Williams, now an assistant with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“It’s going to be a tough day,” Anderson said Thursday before departing. “I’m glad that a lot of the staff and my teammates are going to be able to go and be there for Monty and his family. It’s going to be an emotional day. It’s been an emotional time. That’s kind of been the forefront of my thought process right now, if anything. I’m glad we can be there for him. But it will be a tough day.”
Last Wednesday, Ingrid Williams was killed in an automobile accident. An Oklahoma City television station recently reported that the driver who crashed into Williams was traveling 92 miles per hour before impact. The speed limit on that stretch of road is 40 miles per hour, KOCO reported.
Monty and Ingrid Williams had five children.
Among players, Anthony Davis and Eric Gordon said they would attend the funeral, and Jrue Holiday, Alexis Ajinca and Luke Babbitt were expected to attend. Coach Alvin Gentry flew to Oklahoma City for the service, as did Gayle Benson, the wife of Pelicans owner Tom Benson, and Anita Demps, the wife of general manager Dell Demps, a spokesman said.
Gayle Benson, Anita Demps and Gentry flew on Tom Benson’s plane. The team rented a second plane players and other staffers.
“I think the great thing about this organization is that they’re very supportive of anyone that has been here,” Gentry said. “They’re very supportive of what Monty is going through with his family, and we just want to be there to support him. That’s why we’re going and some of the guys are going, because we want to be there to support him and his family.”
Davis said it was “very important to me” to attend the funeral, and Gordon said the decision to fly to Oklahoma City after practice was “a no-brainer.”
“It’s very devastating,” Gordon said. “Still to this day I’m at a loss for words. The first thing you think about – definitely you think about the coach, but you think about the kids.”
The Pelicans weren’t the only team with representatives on the way to Oklahoma City. ESPN reported that Clippers coach Doc Rivers and point guard Chris Paul planned to attend the funeral.
Several Pelicans players met with Monty Williams, who coached the team for five seasons before being fired last spring, before New Orleans’ game at the Thunder last Thursday.
“It’s crazy and tough to see that,” Gordon said. “That’s all he talks about. Other than basketball, all he does is talk about his family. That’s it.”
Gordon, who has missed the past 12 games with a fractured right ring finger, has been cleared to return to non-contact portions of practice and is dribbling and shooting with his right hand.
The Pelicans’ starting shooting guard, who is averaging 14.9 points per game, shoots with two fingers taped together, he said, but hopes to find a rhythm before he gets back on the court for games.
“At the end of the day, I want to be cleared to do everything here shortly,” Gordon said. “I’ll be waiting for that next week. Soon as I’m cleared, I’m ready to go after that.”
With 29 games to play, the Pelicans are a playoff longshot. New Orleans is 20-33 and entered Thursday 6½ games out of the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot, with three other teams ahead of them in the chase.
But Gentry isn’t writing off the season as a lost cause.
“What I told the guys is that we have to approach it like this is going to be a new season,” Gentry said. “We’re not going to ever just play out the string. We’ll have goals that we can set for ourselves. I think the big thing for us is that we have to demand certain things down the stretch and the discipline part of it is going to be important. Just play out the games and be competitive every night out and assume that this is the season and try to have the best record for the last 29 games.”