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NBA AM: Pelicans Constantly Plagued By Injuries

The New Orleans Pelicans just can’t stay healthy enough to win. Tyreke Evans is the latest to get hurt.

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Pelicans Constantly Plagued By Injuries

The New Orleans Pelicans shocked the league last season by winning 45 games and reaching the playoffs in the ultra-competitive Western Conference. Most observers believed New Orleans arrived to the party one year ahead of schedule in their rebuilding project. The Pelicans’ romp to the playoff berth and flirtation with 50 wins was even more impressive considering the team had to endure All-Star forward Anthony Davis’ absence in the lineup for 14 games.

During the offseason, the team surprisingly parted ways with Monty Williams and hired Alvin Gentry as head coach, believing the league veteran could get the franchise over the hump quicker.

Whether Gentry will be able to get the team further than Williams remains to be seen, but one thing he’ll have to navigate like his predecessor is New Orleans’ penchant for injuries as of late.

The team’s core hasn’t been able to fully gain cohesion because key members of the rotation are seemingly always on the sideline wearing designer suits or offsite rehabbing.

Here’s a look at New Orleans’ core group and their missed time with the franchise:

Jrue Holiday has missed 90 games over the past two seasons.

Ryan Anderson has missed 82 games over the past three seasons.

Anthony Davis has missed 47 games over the past three seasons.

Eric Gordon has missed 136 games over the past four seasons.

Tyreke Evans has missed 13 games over the past two seasons (but see below).

While Evans has been the most durable of the Pelicans’ core as of late, the team announced that the guard had arthroscopic knee surgery earlier this week and is expected to miss time as we approach the beginning of the regular season.

Evans appeared in 79 games last season and averaged 16.6 points, 6.6 assists and 5.3 rebounds per contest. What made Evans so valuable to New Orleans’ attack was his ability to play multiple positions (which meant filling in when others were hurt) and orchestrate the team’s offense.

With Holiday expected to begin the season with his minutes under constant watch, the presence of Evans in the rotation would have allowed for a smoother transition. The team recently announced the signing of veteran guard Nate Robinson, which gives them some scoring punch but not the same type of versatility.

Make no mistake, Davis is the center of attention on this team and he’s still just scratching the surface of his potential. The loss of Evans doesn’t derail the team’s postseason hopes, but it does put additional pressure on the Pelicans’ other supporting stars who haven’t been able to remain on the floor consistently as well.

New Orleans has a very intriguing core on paper, the problem is they just haven’t been able to stay healthy enough to truly gauge its long-term potential. You can also seriously question whether the group will get the opportunity. Anderson and Gordon will be free agents after this season. Evans and Holiday will be free agents after next season.

Drummond Doesn’t sign Extension, will Test Free Agency

Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond was eligible to sign a five-year, $120 million contract extension before the November 2 deadline but has elected to wait until after the season to deal with free agency, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN.    

The Pistons still hold leverage in this situation as they will undoubtedly issue a qualifying offer that will make Drummond a restricted free agent next summer. However, it was thought to be a no-brainer that the franchise would be able to lock in Drummond long-term this fall – especially considering the team let promising big man Greg Monroe walk in free agency (to division rival Milwaukee) back in July.

Drummond averaged 13.8 points and 13.5 rebounds on 51 percent shooting last season in 82 appearances. The fourth year pro has missed just one game over the past two seasons.

Lang Greene is a senior NBA writer for Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last 10 seasons

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