College football opens in earnest this weekend. Tulane already opened the season in disappointing fashion dropping a 7-3 defensive battle with Wake Forest. LSU plays Wisconsin this afternoon (2:30 PM on ABC) in Green Bay as Leonard Fournette’s Heisman campaign begins. The Saints finished 0-4 in preseason and will start their regular season next Sunday. Years of poor roster management and wasted assets trading up in the draft continues to come home to roost for our boys in the Black and Gold.
Odd as it may seem, basketball season is nearly upon us! In just three weeks the New Orleans Pelicans will open training camp with media day at their Airline Drive facility. In four weeks they open preseason against the Dallas Mavericks in Bossier City.
Think back, for a moment, to this time last year. News had yet to come out on Quincy Pondexter’s limited availability or the impending minutes restrictions on Jrue Holiday. The fanbase, myself and many other writers included, were incredibly optimistic on the prospects of the 2015-16 season. 50 wins was not out of the question. ESPN was predicting 47 wins in mid-August. This year, the summer prediction out of Bristol pegged New Orleans at 35 wins. Ouch.
Long suspected, but officially official: The Pelicans will hold training camp at home in Metairie, not at The Greenbrier.— Brett Dawson (@BDawsonWrites) August 22, 2016
The Pelicans training camp will take place in Metairie this season instead of going to West Virginia. It makes sense, as Brett Dawson explained in a series of tweets, to stay in Louisiana for training camp since the team will be traveling to China for two preseason games.
Anthony Davis and company are playing a shorter preseason schedule this season, just six games stretched out over the course of three weeks. Just once, on Tuesday October 4th against the Indiana Pacers, will the Pelicans play in the Smoothie King Center. Given recent history it is unlikely the first two preseason games will be televised in the local area. However, thanks to the two games in China we should get a look at the team on TV early in the morning on NBATV on October 9th and 12th. Those games tip-off at 6:30 AM.
Roster question marks
The training camp roster might not provide much, if any, intrigue. Robert Sacre does not appear to have any shot at a roster spot behind Omer Asik, Alexis Ajinca, or Cheick Diallo barring a trade. Chris Copeland and Shawn Dawson are in a similar boat unless something significant happens with Tyreke Evans. New Orleans already has 15 guaranteed contracts on the books for the 2016-17 season, the maximum allowed. In order to make room Dell Demps would need to execute an unbalanced trade sending more players than he receives or else waive or cut a player under contract and eat the remaining salary hit.
Mickey Loomis is available for a wide range of consulting on the various negative aspects dead money can have on the success of a professional sports franchise.
The one wild card, as Oleh has already covered in some depth, is Tyreke Evans. It does not appear the Pelicans organization believes he can be relied on to contribute this season. How much that is due to Tyreke’s rehab or the general incompetence of the medical staff is up for debate. It is sad to see the heart and soul of the 2014-15 team fall so far as one of the earliest believers in his potential.
Agent of change
On Thursday Liz Mullen of Sports Business Daily reported that Jrue Holiday had changed agents from Thad Foucher of Wasserman Media Group to Jason Glushon, who is opening his own firm. This could mean absolutely nothing for the Pelicans’ prospects of retaining Holiday beyond his contract year.
Or it could be a negative of substance yet to be determined. Foucher also represents Anthony Davis and Kendrick Perkins. Terrence Jones recently switched from Foucher this summer before signing with the Pelicans, so it isn’t a certain negative. Holiday, however, is likely to see much wider range of interest given his talents, versatility, and relatively young age.
Foucher, if you recall from last summer, is a New Orleans native and graduate of Saint Augustine. That’s an uncommon bond between and agent and city, one it is better to have than not.
In the end Pelican fans have reason to hope that it is nothing. However, it does have a non-zero chance to be negative. Losing a point guard on the fringes of the top ten without an adequate replacement could prove devastating. Let’s hope it’s not.