Sacramento's Harry Giles (left) and New Orleans forward Brandon Ingram pursue a loose ball

Pelicans shootaround update presented by HUB International: Alvin Gentry says precautions for coronavirus ‘inconvenient, but understandable’

by Jim Eichenhofer
@Jim_Eichenhofer

SACRAMENTO – Under normal circumstances, the importance of Wednesday’s New Orleans-Sacramento game to the Western Conference playoff chase would be at the forefront of discussion, but the coronavirus and its potential impact dominated conversation, both before and after morning shootaround at Golden 1 Center. Just prior to Alvin Gentry, Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram being made available to the media – all later sat at a league-mandated distance from camera people and writers – ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Golden State Warriors are planning to hold upcoming home games without fans. Chase Center is only an hour-plus drive from Sacramento, California’s capital.

“It would definitely be weird at first, but when you start (counting games) in the win and loss column, it won’t be so weird,” Williamson said, when asked about the prospect of playing NBA games with no spectators. “At the end of the day, we’re professional basketball players. If we’ve got to play in an empty arena, it wouldn’t be fun, but it would be competitive.”

“Obviously there isn’t a team in the league that wants to play without fans in the stands,” Gentry said. “But we’ve also got to be realistic in understanding that this may be what we have to resort to.”

Both men said they recognize that any changes to their normal routine will be part of trying to contain the spread of the virus.

“It’s crazy that the virus is having that impact on the world, not in a good way,” Williamson said. “I think the league is taking necessary steps, to limit the spread as much as possible.”

Gentry: “It’s inconvenient, but understandable. You’ve got to in some kind of way get this thing under control. Everybody out there is trying to do the best they can to try to do that. I think everyone will go along with it, because we know everything that’s out there and the dangers.”

Other notes from shootaround in downtown Sacramento:

A smiling Ingram, after being asked about the impact of possibly having NBA games with no in-person audience: “I don’t know. Maybe it will help the TV ratings a little bit? I don’t know what to expect.” …

Williamson has gradually improved his percentage at the foul line, a skill that’s probably going to be a vital part of his future in the NBA, given how often he gets there. The Duke product has increased his accuracy in each of the three months he’s played, going from 48 percent in January to 67 percent in February to 70 percent through five March games.

“I’ve been putting in a lot of extra work with Coach Fred (Vinson) and Coach (Michael) Ruffin,” Williamson said of the progress he’s making. “Whenever I have a chance, I always get with them to work on my free throws.”

The rookie forward added that the time honing his shot at the charity stripe will be part of his offseason plan to get better.

“Definitely,” he said. “During the summer, summer is so long that you can work on pretty much every part of your game for a long time. That’s what I plan to do during the summer.” …

Ingram on Lonzo Ball’s unmistakable improvement as a shooter this season: “It’s a beautiful thing to see. He’s put in the work – I’ve seen him put in the work. He goes to the gym, even when I say I’m tired and I’m taking days off. He’s there all the time. He’s falling in love with the game of basketball. I like what he’s doing.”

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