NEW ORLEANS -- With their playoff odds no longer in the whole numbers, Alvin Gentry has begun openly discussing the future for the New Orleans Pelicans. That certainly includes Anthony Davis, a 22-year-old three-time All-Star who signed a maximum extension last offseason. And that most likely includes Jrue Holiday, who has stayed healthy for the first time in three seasons in New Orleans and is expected to rejoin the starting lineup in the near future.
Whether that includes Ryan Anderson, an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career this summer, is up in the air.
“Obviously that’s 21 games from now. That’s a situation that I’ll approach then,” Anderson said. “It’s not something I can even think about right now. ... Although I know you guys want an answer right now [laughs], but I don’t have one for you. I really don’t. Anything can happen, really. Anything can happen. I’ve never been a part of free agency, an unrestricted free agent. I don’t know what it’s like. I don’t know what it’s gonna be like. Don’t know who’s gonna come into play -- at all. It’s definitely something I’ll approach then.”
Anderson, 27, said he hasn’t had any conversations with Pelicans management about each side’s plans for this offseason.
Nor, he said, has he heard from the coaching staff about playing just 5:13 in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s loss to the Utah Jazz and not appearing at all in the fourth quarter of Thursday’s loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
“I’m a basketball player. I love playing basketball. I want to be out there as much as possible, but I understand I’m not a coach, I’m not in control of certain situations,” Anderson said. “I want to play. I don’t even know if there’s a specific reason. If there is one I haven’t been approached with anything, I haven’t been talked about with anything. ... Y’know, it happens. It’s a part of the game.
“I haven’t been left out of a lot of fourth quarters since I’ve been here. Y’know, I guess it happens. ... But it’s part of the game, guys. [Laughs.] I don’t know how else to say it.”
Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said Anderson’s late-game absences were “simply by coincidence.” The decision, according to Gentry, was more about matching up with Jazz big men Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors. “I wouldn’t read into that at all,” Gentry said.
Anderson, meanwhile, said he won’t go looking for answers.
“I think we have enough going on. I don’t really want to add more to the pot,” he said. “I think, y’know, the coaching staff knows I can help the team score. So there must be a reason that they have. I assume it would be a good reason for them. Maybe it’s defensive purposes, maybe it’s ... I don’t know. It’s just two games; it hasn’t been a whole season of it or something.”
That “pot” includes 183 games missed because of injuries this season. Anderson, who was sidelined for 60 games in 2013-14 after having surgery to address a herniated cervical disc and 21 games in 2014-15, has managed to stay out of it thus far, sitting out two games this season because of illness. But he lamented the losses the team has faced in his four seasons in New Orleans -- including Tyreke Evans (right knee), whom Anderson described as a “catalyst” for last season’s playoff run -- during which the team has ranked inside the top five in missed games twice, according to InStreetClothes.com.
“As a team, obviously we’ve gone through a lot. Every year our group has gone through a lot. I’ve seen everything, everything in these four years here,” Anderson said. “This was another injury-prone year, another without Tyreke. Eric [Gordon’s] missed a lot of the year. We missed him here. Anthony’s been out a few games. Jrue. That’s been tough, but that’s something you can’t control.
“And I think that’s the frustrating part about it. You can’t control it. It’s part of the game, guys get hurt. Unfortunately, it’s just another season where we’ve had to fight through that and guys have had to step up. I think a lot of guys have, and guys have played well and played their hearts out. At the end of the day, it would really benefit this group to have everyone healthy. We haven’t really fully seen what this group can do for a full season all healthy together. And that’s tough. Looking back right now, that’s probably the No. 1 thing to look at. We’ve talked about that kind of thing for so long.”
His Pelicans tenure thus far may not have gone as he would have liked, with what will most likely be one playoff appearance in his four seasons. But his time in New Orleans has come during formative years of his life, and he says his experiences here have taught him a lot.
“A lot of highs and a lot of lows,” he said. “Obviously for me personally, anybody that knows my story here, I never could have imagined ever going through different things in my life, obviously. Just personal stuff, the neck injury, a lot of different things.
“For me individually, if I’m gonna talk about myself, I grew up a lot over the past four years. You can’t take things too seriously. This game can frustrate you, it can get in your head, but there’s more important things in life and I think that’s definitely what it’s taught me here. But, yeah. This four years have been a big molding point in my life, I think. To really change my mind about how I think about life in general. It’s changed me outside of basketball more than it has inside of basketball."