Quincy Pondexter helping mentor teammates while working to get back on court

by Jim Eichenhofer
@Jim_Eichenhofer

New Orleans small forward Quincy Pondexter has thought about working to become an NBA general manager someday, but lately he’s been focused on filling the role of informal assistant coach for the Pelicans. The sixth-year pro – currently sidelined after undergoing offseason knee surgery – often can be seen huddling with undrafted rookie wing Bryce Dejean-Jones or other Pelicans, giving out pointers based on what Pondexter sees from the bench.

The 27-year-old currently does not have a timetable for his return to action yet, but has been trying to make the most of his unwanted hiatus. That includes conferring with his teammates and providing advice, coming from a different vantage point.

“I talk to Bryce a lot and (second-year guard) Sean (Kilpatrick) a lot,” Pondexter said. “Even Tyreke (Evans) and other guys, to really give them a different perspective. Sometimes as a player you don’t want to hear it from coaches; you want to hear it from your teammates. When you hear it from people who are close to you, they’re going to tell you the right things. I just want to see them get better. I had vets when I was a rookie who really looked out for me. Now I’m just paying the game back.”

On the court last season, Pondexter made a major impact, eventually moving into the starting frontcourt alongside Anthony Davis and Omer Asik, during the Pelicans’ successful pursuit of Oklahoma City for the No. 8 playoff seed in the Western Conference. Pondexter continued to play through knee pain, despite having to guard the likes of Stephen Curry during the postseason. Recently he’s been limited to minimal activity and has not participated in any of the team’s five-on-five scrimmages. Alvin Gentry said last month that Pondexter won’t be available until November.

“I can’t do much,” Pondexter said. “We’re still working on rehab right now. There’s no timetable, but I’m doing everything possible to get back on the court. It’s a long and tedious rehab, but it’s something that has to be done. I have some pain, and some of (being sidelined) is time (required to be out) after surgery. But we have a great medical staff that I bug all the time. I spend more time with them than anybody else. Hopefully I continue to progress in the right way and hopefully I’ll be on the court soon.”

Pondexter, who’s been traded twice in his NBA career and was receiving multiple DNPs due to coach’s decision with Memphis early in 2014-15, said he’s using some of his previous experiences to deal with his current circumstances.

“It’s one of life’s tests that I have to deal with,” he said of being unable to play. “There’s not a player out there who wants to be on the court more than me right now. You’ve got to focus your energies on other things, and right now that’s helping make my teammates get better, talking to the young guys, helping some of the older veterans see different things and the nuances of the new offense. Being another coach out there. It’s what I have to do. It’s tough because I want to play so bad – you have no idea.”