Through the first week of the 2016-17 campaign, the 0-4 New Orleans Pelicans are one of the NBA’s five remaining winless teams. Joining the Pelicans are the Philadelphia 76ers, Washington Wizards, Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks.
It has been a rough start for New Orleans, but the Pelicans have been in a funk since recording 48 victories and reaching the playoffs during the 2014 season. At the time, many expected the franchise to be one of the next teams on deck to move up the standings, but then last season the team posted a disappointing 30-52 record and missed out on the playoffs – seemingly stalling all of their favorable momentum in the process.
To get back on track, the Pelicans made wholesale changes to the roster this past summer by signing Solomon Hill, E’Twaun Moore and Langston Galloway in free agency. The team also took risks by bringing in talented, but inconsistent prospects Lance Stephenson and Terrence Jones on low-risk, high-reward deals.
New Orleans signed Galloway to a two-year, $10 million deal after the guard averaged 8.9 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 131 career games (48 starts) over two seasons with the New York Knicks.
The Knicks made changes to their backcourt over the summer, trading for former league MVP Derrick Rose and signing veteran Brandon Jennings. The moves left Galloway, a consistent member of the nightly rotation, as the odd man out as free agency began.
Galloway implied that he was on the verge of potentially rejoining the Knicks before the franchise changed directions, but once that occurred, New Orleans quickly swept him off the free agent market.
“Right at the last minute, things didn’t work out with [the Knicks] in free agency and we just went different ways,” Galloway told Basketball Insiders. “I loved being in New York, but I’m definitely in a great opportunity here in New Orleans.”
Pelicans vice president and general manager Dell Demps along with head coach Alvin Gentry quickly reached out to Galloway’s representatives to begin talks between both sides.
“I got a call from my agent,” Galloway explains. “Coach Gentry wanted to give me a call, him and Dell, they reached out showing some interest saying, ‘Hey, we really want you to come here and be a part of the team.’
“So it definitely made a big deal in my heart and my head that they wanted me.”
In four contests this season, Galloway is averaging just 2.8 points, 1.8 rebounds and 0.8 assists in 14 minutes of action per night. The third-year guard is also shooting just 23 percent from the floor and hasn’t connected on a three-point attempt in nine tries from long range.
The Pelicans’ struggles, overall, cannot be pinned on three-time All-Star Anthony Davis’ play. In four games, the fifth-year pro is currently averaging 37 points, 13.3 rebounds, three steals, 2.5 assists and 2.5 blocks.
“His growth is unbelievable,” Galloway said of Davis. “He’s so young and his potential to be a superstar and continue being a superstar is definitely up there. With him being healthy, I think he’ll take this team to a whole new level.”
Despite the slow start and playing time decrease from his time in New York, Galloway maintains his hope is to help the team in any way possible and get to the postseason.
“My personal goal is going to go along with the team goal and help the team win,” Galloway said. “Getting to the playoffs is all I care about. I haven’t been [to the playoffs] yet, so I’ll definitely be pushing for that and working each day to try and get there.”
Although Galloway’s offensive production has been lacking since arriving in New Orleans (according to Basketball-Reference he is sporting a -9.1 offensive box score), he feels defense is where his impact will be felt the most.
There could be some truth to that, as Galloway currently ranks sixth on the Pelicans in DBPM (defensive box score plus-minus per 100 possessions).
“I think it’s the defensive aspect,” Galloway said. “I definitely fit in here and that’s the main thing. I’ll work hard and try to help out wherever I can. Coach Gentry runs a really up-tempo offense and I love getting up and down the court so I think I’m definitely going to help out in a lot of different areas.”
The Pelicans travel to Memphis (2-2) to face the Grizzlies on Wednesday.
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