Pelicans state-of-the-team conference call highlights
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
The entire recording of Tuesday’s New Orleans Pelicans conference call is up on Pelicans.com. In case you don’t have time to listen to the complete hour-plus discussion involving season ticket holders and Dennis Lauscha, Dell Demps and Monty Williams, here are a few of the highlights:
• There will be no shortage of news this summer related to the franchise, as the team moves ahead with re-working several areas, including introducing new uniforms and renaming the mascot and dance team. Lauscha: “I’ve (worked) in the sports business for 16 years now, and I’ve never seen as much happening in an offseason as we’re starting to see with the Pelicans already.” Also on the list of soon-to-be completed projects are the team’s brand-new practice facility in Metairie and renovations to the New Orleans Arena. Fans will participate in the naming of the mascot in June and dance team in July.
• Demps said the Pelicans will have an estimated “$13-14 million” to spend in free agency, depending on the team’s lottery slot, as well as a few current players who have options in their contracts. “We could get creative and do some trades to free up more money in trades,” Demps also noted, as an example of how that figure can change.
• Demps on trying to add veterans in free agency: “We are going to look for guys who have experience and can come in and help us win games. We thought it was important for our young core last year to figure things out for themselves, and they were able to do that. Moving forward, as we continue our growth and improvement, we’ll definitely get some veterans who can help us get to the next step.”
• Williams, when asked if he was “unhappy” with any of his players: “I was never unhappy with any of our guys. I spend a lot of time pushing our guys to be the best they can be. Sometimes it may look like I’m unhappy. But I thought our guys competed all season long. It didn’t matter that we lost a lot of games or the game situation – our guys competed. That’s what you ask for from your team… With that said we’re not satisfied with where we are. We understand we have to get better and add more talent. As we always say, we want to do it so we can have long-term success.”
• Williams on Eric Gordon: “Eric is a valued member of our team. I’ve said it since he’s been a part of this organization, that he has the potential to be a great player. It’s my job to bring that talent out of him and push him. I think a lot was made of the coaching – or altercation, whatever you want to call it – that happened in Utah, but from a coaching standpoint or a player standpoint, that stuff happens all the time. What I’ve talked to Eric about is that he should want me to push him so that he can be great. I thought he handled and accepted my style of coaching. I’ve been tough on Eric since he’s been here, because he’s a good player. We value him. Our players are better when he’s playing at a high level. I thought he did a really good job of coming back from an injury and finishing out the season strong.”