New Orleans Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry and General Manager Dell Demps were spotted checking out the scene of Greenbrier Country Club in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, on Friday morning, while the New Orleans Saints held their annual Black & Gold scrimmage.
But the basketball brass wasn’t just trying to get a sneak peek at Sean Payton’s team. Gentry and Demps are looking for a landing spot of their own, as sources familiar with the situation said the Pelicans are looking for a place to hold training camp outside of New Orleans.
Greebrier, which has served as the Saints’ home in August for the past two years, is a possibility for the Pelicans, and sources also said the franchise is interested in locations near Charleston, South Carolina, and Mobile, Alabama.
Nothing has been selected yet, and the Pelicans don’t open practice until the beginning of October.
Training camp in the NBA is also done on a significantly smaller scale than the NFL or Major League Baseball. Rather than uprooting the entire franchise for a month and hosting a crowd of onlookers, the Pelicans would need a facility for a week or less of closed practices before hitting the road for seven preseason games.
Although it’s a short stint, going on the road for the first week of practice does allow for a bonding experience, and Gentry utilized that opportunity when he led the Phoenix Suns, taking the team to San Diego during his first training camp in 2010, then moving to Grand Canyon University in Phoenix during the 2011 lockout season, before going back to San Diego in 2012.
Meanwhile, during former coach Monty Williams’ five-year tenure, the team held training camp at its New Orleans facility.
While the Saints have openly praised the football facilities at the Greenbrier, it doesn’t appear to be the likely destination for the Pelicans for this upcoming camp, since sources said the necessary facilities still need to be converted or developed to host an NBA team.
However, it could be a reality for 2016 and beyond.
“There are a lot of people who like the Greenbrier,” said Robert Harris, the vice president of sports and recreation for the Greenbrier. “It’s a good place to stay focused, and the Saints being here has opened the doors of the great things we have here and what we can do.”
Doug Miller, a former executive director of football communications for the Saints, is now director of marketing for the Greenbrier and is helping to engineer the potential deal.
“Our owner believes in this area and is doing whatever he can to draw, not just sports teams, but other activities,” Harris said “You might have to commute from our place 15 or 20 minutes, but in a metropolitan area you might have to catch a cab that would take the same time. And this is a safe, beautiful area with so much potential.”
Advocate sportswriter Ted Lewis contributed to this story.