The NBA has proposed playing one fewer minute per quarter, cutting games to 44 minutes, in an attempt to shorten games — an issue for several of the major sports.
Pelicans coach Monty Williams had a quizzical look when asked whether he preferred the move.
“I see both sides of it,” he said. “I can see the benefits of it: You can cut off six to eight games per season. That’s a lot of wear and tear to cut down (on players’ bodies). And yet, traditionally, we’re a 48-minute game. So that’s something that would be weird, no matter how you slice it.
“I think it changes your timeouts, changes your rotation. I think it hurts the role players when you take that much time off the game. Role players wouldn’t get the minutes they typically get, and those guys need those minutes to get paid the money they deserve.”
Williams added that it’s important to keep the fans’ interest in televised games, so he can see shortening the game because flow is important. He’s against the “Hack-a-Shaq” fouling strategy, for one, because it slows the game and makes it ugly.
Houston Rockets coach Kevin McHale said this week that he was not in favor of cutting minutes. To him, the league wanted things both ways — shorter games but keeping timeouts, which enable the number of revenue-producing TV commercials to continue.
Just letting players play, he said, could help solve a lot.
“If they want to shorten the games, they should have the officials not blow their whistles as much,” he said. “Cut down on the fouls called. And they could cut the timeouts by one or two a game.”
Pelicans guard Eric Gordon said he didn’t like cutting time off the games. If reducing wear and tear on players’ bodies truly was an issue, he said, the league should cut the number of games.
“I think they should play about 60-something, maybe 70,” he said.
Pelicans forward John Salmons, who is in his 13th year, said cutting to about 72 games might be a good idea. Then, after thinking about it for a few seconds, he changed his mind.
“I think they should leave it just like it is,” he said. “Don’t cut the minutes or the games. But there’s something they could cut out that would shorten them. They’ll figure it out.”
A day of rest
The Pelicans had Saturday off after having what Williams said was a good no-contact practice Friday.
New Orleans played Tuesday and Thursday after not having played since Oct. 8. Williams said he relished playing two games in three nights.
“I think it helps your conditioning, I think it helps you up here,” he said, pointing to his head. “We did that (earlier), but it was like the first week of practice. Guys were still trying to figure out a lot of stuff.”
After the first four days of training camp, the team played three games in five days. The players said it was like cramming for a test.
On second thought
Williams had said he wanted to use the fourth, fifth and sixth preseason games to increase the minutes given to the team’s starters and key reserve Ryan Anderson to the 30-minute mark, getting them ready for the start of the regular season.
But blowout wins against inferior competition played a part in Williams’ decision to change his plan. As the lead kept growing, Williams went deeper into his bench.
The starters again were in the low-20-minute to mid-20-minute range, with only Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers exceeding 25 minutes.
Williams said that’s OK.
“We’ve been practicing so hard,” he said. “I wanted to get those guys up to 30 minutes, but a lot of them are in post-surgery mode — Jrue (Holiday), Eric (Gordon), Ryan. You still have to be careful with those guys. And Omer (Asik) and AD played in the offseason (in the World Cup).
“So we have two more games. I think the Washington game (on Monday in Baltimore) will be a good game to get the minutes up, then we’ll bring it down when we play Dallas (on Thursday in Bossier City).”
Tuesday’s game against Oklahoma City brought two former Pelicans back to the Smoothie King Center: Anthony Morrow and Lance Thomas.
Morrow credits his season in New Orleans last year for resuscitating his career to an extent. With the Pelicans, he was forced to be a better defender, and he also became more of a complete guard offensively instead of just a 3-point shooter.
“I credit Coach Williams a lot,” he said. “Definitely being here helped me out a lot, getting back to my roots, just going back to the fundamentals of everything, on and off the court.”
Morrow didn’t play Tuesday after he had sprained his left ankle in the team’s previous game. Morrow was signed to be a 3-point shooter, but Thunder coach Scott Brooks said he has been pleasantly surprised with Morrow’s defense and all-around play.
“Defensively, he competes,” Brooks said. “He’s not known as a defender, but we have a good defensive system. But it takes effort to run it, and he brings effort.”
Thomas was waived by the Pelicans five games into last season, his third with the team. Making the Thunder doesn’t appear likely, but all of the team’s injuries have given him some exposure.
“I’ve just been competing hard in practices and games, showing I can defend every position,” Thomas said.