Last Season: 30-52, 12th in the West
Off-Season Gains: PG Langston Galloway (free agent), SG Buddy Hield (draft), SF Solomon Hill (free agent), SG E'Twaun Moore (free agent), SG Lance Stephenson (free agent), PF Terrence Jones (free agent), C Robert Sacre (free agent)
Off-Season Losses: PF Ryan Anderson (free agent/Houston), SG Eric Gordon (free agent/Houston), PG Toney Douglas (waived/Cleveland), SF Luke Babbitt (trade/Miami), SF James Ennis (free agent/Memphis)
Off-Season Stock: About as valuable as your old baseball cards.
League Pass Team?: Maybe once a month, just to see how Brow's holding up.
Whereas the Oklahoma City Thunder represent the positive end of the spectrum of what the Minnesota Timberwolves can be one day, here we have the Pellies, who exist as more of a cautionary tale. They're wasting the ridiculously talented Anthony Davis before our very eyes, kind of like the Anaheim Angels are with Mike Trout for lack of better comparison. Not that "The Brow" is completely removed from the ills that plague his organization, mind you. He was shut down after 61 games due to injuries to his kneecap and shoulder, but by then the Pelicans were already well out of playoff contention, doomed after an 1-11 start. Practically the whole roster was hit with injuries, with Tyreke Evans limited to 25 games, Eric Gordon 45, Ryan Anderson 66 and Jrue Holiday 65, with a minutes restriction at that.
Things have been no less hectic or depressing over the summer, with the kind of roster turnover you associate more with a Jack In The Box kitchen than an NBA franchise. Anderson and Gordon are gone, Holiday will be away, caring for his ailing wife (no timetable has been given for his return), Evans will be out til at least mid-December as he recovers from off-season knee injuries and a scary blood clot in his calf and supposedly he wants to be moved. Quincy Pondexter won't be ready to go at the start of the season either.
Everything seems to be in flux around Alvin Gentry, a whirlwind of people coming and going all around him, and he must be wondering why he ever decided to leave the relative serenity of the Warriors, where he was Steve Kerr's top assistant. I mean, I get that having the top job has its appeal, and the restaurants are really good in The Crescent City, but they literally signed Lance Stephenson in September.
You don't see Minnesota signing Lance Stephenson, is all I'm saying.
When will it be time for us to officially worry about Davis? He has four seasons under his belt, and he's never played more than 68 games. Particularly troubling to me was that the team's medical staff decided to treat his labrum tear without surgery. Why? If you're going to shut him down for the season anyway, why not ensure that you can fix what's wrong? Davis didn't seem to have his heart in it on defense last year, especially after their rough start and his efficiency slipped overall from the stratospheric 30.8 PER in 2014-15 to a merely awesome 25.0 last season. He's added a three, but his percentages dipped everywhere inside of 15 feet, his assists dropped and his turnovers shot up. His early career reminds me some of David Robinson's, with the nagging injuries and the revolving door of teammates and coaches. Maybe the best thing for him would be miss a whole year and put the Pels in a position to draft another superstar. The way this is going, there's going to be one hell of a bidding war for Davis' services in 2021 if he's able to hold up physically.
All around Davis will be perhaps the most anonymous starting lineup in the league. I get the sense that Gentry would prefer to start Davis at center, but Monobrow has made it known he'd prefer to play with another big. So Alexis Ajinca it is. The lumbering Frenchman has gained enough experience where he's now a quality defender, albeit a foul-prone one, but he's still a zero on offense. At least Ajinca brings value on one end. He is in reality what Omer Asik was hyped to be. My homie has been an unqualified disaster for the Pelicans and is now basically unplayable.
On the perimeter we've got two new wings in E'Twaun Moore and Solomon Hill, a huge leap of faith for two young guys who flashed here and there in the muck of the Central Division but were hardly consistent. Moore shot the ball exceptionally well last year for the Bulls in limited minutes, but his usage rate was maddeningly low. Maybe he'll get more open looks playing with Davis. Hill didn't do anything all year for the Pacers but then inexplicably hit 11-of-19 threes in the playoffs, sort of like what Dwyane Wade did for Miami. And now he's making more money than Danny Green.
Tim Frazier is expected to be the caretaker at the point in Holiday's absence. He was fantastic in a brief 16-game trial run last year after joining the Pelicans on a 10-day contract after failed stints with Philadelphia and Portland. But these were meaningless games for a team playing out the string. I'm guessing that Frazier won't average 16 points and 9 dimes per 36 minutes while shooting 41 percent from downtown again, but you never know. The Pelican's brass are hedging their bets too, they signed former Knick Langston Galloway to compete with Frazier. Galloway was All-Rookie 2nd Team in 2014-15 but took a step back last year.
There are all kinds of interesting names on the bench. Evans can give them a secondary play-maker if he ever plays, and he shot a career-high 38.8 percent from three last year. He's never been a winning player though and I don't know if he'll ever see the court. Holiday is the second-best point guard in the division (sorry, Tony), a guy who competes on defense and is crafty enough to get his shots off, but durability will likely be an issue with him. Terrence Jones is someone who gave the Spurs a lot of problems back in the day, but he was an injured mess last year and I don't know if he'll ever find his game again. I confuse which one is which with Quincy Pondexter and Dante Cunningham. Pondexter can shoot threes well every other year but keeps getting hurt, while Cunningham is bouncy but that's about it. Finally there's rookie Buddy Hield, who was something of a tournament sensation last March. He's not the kind of athlete you typically see drafted sixth overall and he's almost 23 already. Hield struggled mightily in Summer League, but his preseason performances so far have been encouraging. For a guy like him, his entire value will be based on his shooting. I can't imagine him contributing in other areas.
The Pelicans would have a playoff-worthy roster, maybe, if they could get significant minutes from Holiday and Evans, but that doesn't seem in the cards. I'm not thrilled about the Hill signing, to say the least, and I don't know how getting Moore makes sense after they already drafted Hield. There just isn't enough shooting or defense here and it's easy to imagine Davis growing more and more frustrated and disillusioned as teams like Utah and Minnesota pass him by on the standings. Maybe PATFO can offer Aldridge and some first-round picks at the trade deadline for him, just to watch the world burn.