Gentry: Pelicans must deal with “many factors” in free agency, plans to improve roster
NEW ORLEANS – The skies were clear and the mood relaxed Monday at the Bayou Oaks golf course at City Park as several current and former Saints took to the links for the 26th Annual Saints Hall of Fame Celebrity Golf Tournament.
Also present was New Orleans Pelicans Head Coach Alvin Gentry. The amassed media was greeted with a lighthearted “You guys are everywhere.” Of course, last summer wasn’t nearly as jovial after the Pelicans struggled to 34 wins.
Now, coming off the franchise’s best season in a decade, Gentry has his first chance to instill some level of stability to his team after essentially playing with four different teams during his first three seasons.
“We like our team,” he said. “We liked the way we finished…Our goal is to bring back that team intact as much as we possibly can.”
At the top of the Pelicans’ to-do list is determining the status of DeMarcus Cousins.
It’s been a strange ride since the regular season ended. First, there was Boogie basking in the joy of the sweep of Portland in the first round. That was followed by his conspicuous absence through the entirety of the second.
Add to that, the noise created by Cousins’ social media habits and his recent feature on “The Undefeated” by Marc Spears, and interest in the big man’s future is nearing a fever pitch more than a month away from the start of free agency.
“I don’t really talk about free agency,” said Gentry. “The bottom line is that obviously we’d like (Cousins) back on our team. Anyone who thinks you’re better not having a guy that averages 26 (points) and 13 (rebounds) not on your team, is really not in tune to what it takes to win in this league.”
While Gentry affirmed his desire to retain the four-time All-Star, he also acknowledged that bringing Boogie back into the fold isn’t a simple matter.
“There’s so many factors that enter into it,” he added, Cousins’ rehabilitation being chief among them. “It’s impossible to say [whether or not he’ll return at 100 percent]. I can say this without any doubt; I think he’ll do everything he possibly can from a rehab standpoint.”
He also pointed to the Pelicans’ January success, when the team went 8-3 (including a 7-1 stretch that ended with the win over Houston where Cousins was injured). As far as he’s concerned, the public and media have a very short memory as to what Boogie contributed to the team.
Maybe, and maybe not. There are more questions about Cousins than there are on one of The Riddler’s finely tailored green suits.
Gentry and General Manager Dell Demps have a lot of planning to do. Besides trying to retain both Cousins and point guard Rajon Rondo, the Pelicans have to get ready for next month’s draft and try to fill out their roster while dealing with a precarious cap situation. Demps wasn’t lying when he noted how hard it is to acquire talent in the NBA. He and Gentry have to find some way to do so.
“What (Dell and I) do is we meet and sit down and we try to formulate a situation of what we’re going to try to do, or what we need, and where we going to try to direct everything and then we go from there,” he added.
“I don’t think anyone realizes how many factors and everything go on with free agency. You can have every bit of the intentions that you have, but that doesn’t mean that it works out sometimes.”
Pelicans fans are desperately hoping that however the offseason plays out, the franchise continues to move forward and doesn’t take a step back towards mediocrity.
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Sports 1280am host/CCS reporter
David Grubb has more than a decade of experience in the sports industry. He began his career with KLAX-TV in Alexandria, La. and followed that up with a stint as an reporter and anchor with WGGB-TV in Springfield, Mass. After spending a few years away from the industry, David worked as sports information director for Southern University at New Orleans…