Pel­i­cans look good on pa­per, tired of los­ing

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

An­thony Davis says a New Or­leans Pel­i­cans are “tired of los­ing” and have the ros­ter to do some­thing about it. That is, if they can find a new of­fen­sive scheme that suits their mix­ture of in­cum­bent starters and re­cent ac­qui­si­tions.

“We can’t wait for the sea­son to come and try to make some noise here in the loaded West,” Davis said Tues­day af­ter­noon while pro­mot­ing a youth camp he’ll host in early Au­gust. “We’re do­ing ev­ery­thing, whether it’s sign­ing play­ers, trad­ing play­ers ... what­ever it is to just try to make sure that we try to be a win­ning or­ga­ni­za­tion,” he added. “We have the tools right now to be suc­cess­ful . ... Right now, I think we look good on pa­per. So we’ve just got to fig­ure it out.”

The Pel­i­cans will likely need the right scheme, good chem­istry and good health to con­tend in the West­ern Con­fer­ence, which fea­tures de­fend­ing cham­pion Golden State as well as Hous­ton, Ok­la­homa City and San An­to­nio.

Davis is op­ti­mistic that could hap­pen. He’s been work­ing out this off­sea­son with fel­low All-Star big man DeMar­cus Cousins, and he fully en­dorsed the re­cent sign­ing of vet­eran point guard Ra­jon Rondo.

Davis said Rondo’s savvy play-mak­ing and de­fen­sive acu­men will strengthen the New Or­leans on both ends while also al­low­ing Jrue Hol­i­day to be­come more of a scor­ing threat from the shoot­ing guard spot.

When the Pel­i­cans re-signed Hol­i­day to a five-year, $126 mil­lion con­tract to open free agency, gen­eral man­ager Dell Demps and coach Alvin Gen­try men­tioned the pos­si­bil­ity of play­ing Hol­i­day off the ball more, and the ac­qui­si­tion of Rondo should al­low that, Davis said.

“When I first heard about Rondo, I thought it was a good sit­u­a­tion for us,” Davis said. “He knows when to get guys in­volved, when to make that pass.” Davis said Rondo and Hol­i­day also will be a for­mi­da­ble de­fen­sive tan­dem along the perime­ter, mean­ing the Pel­i­cans’ All-Star big men should have more chances to pro­tect the rim and re­bound. He said Rondo’s long arms and big hands help him dis­rupt drives and passes as well as re­bound.

“They’re go­ing to give a lot of guards, this year, prob­lems,” Davis said. “It’s al­ways good when you can add a guy who knows how to play de­fense.” By the time Davis hosts his clinic for kids Aug. 7-8 at the Univer­sity of New Or­leans, he’ll have spent a con­sid­er­able por­tion of the off­sea­son work­ing out with Cousins, who was ac­quired in a trade af­ter last sea­son’s All-Star game.

As the fel­low All-Stars pre­pare to en­ter their first full sea­son to­gether, Davis said Cousins is try­ing to adapt and fur­ther de­velop his game. Coaches and team­mates have com­ple­mented Cousins this sum­mer on how he looks af­ter com­mit­ting to a con­di­tion­ing pro­gram that has helped him shed some weight and im­prove his en­durance.

“We know we’re go­ing to be the big fo­cal points on ev­ery team’s scout­ing re­port, so we just wanted to get to­gether and work at it to­gether and fig­ure out the things we like to do,” Davis said. “He’s try­ing to adapt. He wants to win for sure and we didn’t have that much time last year . ... He’s try­ing to do what­ever the team asks him to do.”

Davis said he’s sup­posed to meet with new as­sis­tant coach Chris Finch soon to start dis­cussing the of­fen­sive scheme he en­vi­sions when New Or­leans’ top two front-court stars are play­ing to­gether. Finch could be a good fit be­cause of his re­cent ex­pe­ri­ence on Den­ver’s staff help­ing ver­sa­tile young big men Jusuf Nur­kic and Nikola Jo­kic play ef­fec­tively as team­mates.

Davis said the Pel­i­cans want to em­u­late “how they ran their of­fen­sive pack­age with those two bigs who are very skilled.” —AP

Pel­i­cans guard Nor­ris Cole

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