Alvin Gentry dealing with good problem to have, forced to choose from numerous options at guard spots

by Jim Eichenhofer

Over the duration of his two seasons in New Orleans, Alvin Gentry has frequently dealt with short-handed rosters due to injury. With the Pelicans now almost completely at full strength – Quincy Pondexter remains inactive – the head coach has the opposite “problem”: too many players deserving of playing time than minutes available.

Gentry said prior to Friday’s game vs. New York that it is difficult to use more than four players at two positions. In the case of New Orleans’ backcourt, that has presented a challenge, because six guards can make a strong case that they should be allowed to contribute. Jrue Holiday and Buddy Hield are the current starters, while the quartet of Langston Galloway, E’Twaun Moore, Tyreke Evans and Tim Frazier have proven to be capable reserves – or more – in the first two months of 2016-17.

“It’s been a long time. It hasn’t happened since I’ve been here,” Gentry said of having so many options as a result of a healthier squad. “It’s good to have the depth and have an opportunity that if things aren’t going real well (for a player in the rotation), to stick another guy in and see if he has it for that night.”

Evans remains on a restriction of about 18 minutes in each game, but his return – combined with Hield’s move to the starting lineup, a positive for player and team – has created a playing-time crunch. Holiday is the team’s second-best player and averages 30.6 minutes, while Galloway has been outstanding as an instant-offense option. Moore and Frazier have turned in numerous quality performances both as starters and reserves, but Frazier has been the odd man out over the past week. Frazier received a DNP-coach’s decision for the first time Wednesday vs. the Clippers. Going back several games, Galloway also was squeezed from the mix, garnering a healthy DNP at Philadelphia on Dec. 20.

Asked whether he has discussed Frazier’s decreased playing time with the point guard, Gentry responded, “Sure. I wouldn’t leave him hanging. It’s a tough situation. But I found out a long time ago, you can’t play (more than) four guys in two spots. You definitely can’t play five. And so, somebody has to not play. We talked about it and went through the whole situation.”

Gentry added that – as New Orleans coaches, players and fans are well aware – circumstances can change quickly, meaning every Pelican must be ready to play every night.

“I’ve found that in those situations, some kind of way it always works out, where that guy ends up back on the floor again,” Gentry said. “It’s tough, because Tim has done a great job for us. But at this stage, we felt with Jrue and Tyreke, it’s tough to play another primary ballhandler when those guys are out there.”

Other notes from pregame at the Smoothie King Center:

Asked if there are similarities between Anthony Davis and New York budding star Kristaps Porzingis, Gentry said, “Both of those guys are really good shooters for guys their size. Both of them are very talented as far as putting the ball down (on the floor). Porzingis is going through the transformation, just like AD did and is still doing, as far as the whole maturation of your body and getting stronger, and having a better base. They’re very similar in a lot of ways.”

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