Alvin Gentry

Transcript: Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry media availability - June 30, 2020

Alvin Gentry Media Availability – June 30, 2020

On whether or not he would be allowed to coach in Orlando due to his age:
“I have no idea if the NBA would say he would not be allowed to coach]. My plan right now is to be in Orlando, and I’m looking forward to it, really. I think as the season was put on hiatus we were playing really good basketball, and hopefully we can get back to that. That’s why I’m not treating it like a training camp, I’m treating it like picking up where we left off when the season went on hiatus.”

On why he is comfortable returning to play under this format:
“Well, number one, to be honest with you, these guys…we had a struggle, we lot 13 straight games. Usually when that happens in this league, and really any other league, there’s a good chance that the players are going to quit on you. That never happened here. They were in the fox hole and stood by me, and I want to do the same thing with them. I want to be there for them, I want to be in Orlando and I want to give us an opportunity to try to do well in the situation there.

On if there are plans in place in the event he is not allowed to travel to Orlando for the return-to-play:
“Well I think you cover all the areas. We sat down and talked and we’ve done things like that, but everything so far, we hit on that (the possibility of Gentry not being allowed to go to Orlando), but everything so far that we’ve talked about has been me being there and coaching the team and exactly how we’re going to play this thing out as a collective staff.”

On his confidence in the NBA to complete the return-to-play with no issues:
“Well, you’d have to hope so (that the return-to-play can be completed). I know [the NBA] has gone through every precaution that they could possibly take. This is brand new to everyone, this is not something you can go back and take a blueprint from another time that this happened and correct all the things that were wrong in those situations. This is new to everyone involved. I know the NBA is going to do their complete due-diligence and you have to hope that everybody is going to cooperate with the rules that are going to be in place. In that case, yeah, I think it can be pulled off.”

On players’ platforms and the role sports could play in the current climate of today’s current events:
“Well, it could be somewhat of a distraction, but I don’t think it could ever replace what’s going on right now from a social justice standpoint. I think right now everyone is very tuned in and locked in to having changes happen in this country. Someone asked me a question last week about Juneteenth and my answer to that was ‘yes, it’s a heck of a day, the freeing of the slaves, the Emancipation Proclamation, but it also says a lot about our country that it’s been 150 years since that happened, and we made progress but I think there’s a heck of a lot more progress that we can make a lot quicker than it has been to this point’.”

On if he has concerns in the ability for the team to be able to run a fast-paced offense given the time off that has occurred:
“Well I think that’s something we will have to evaluate the first couple of days of practice. We’ll be able to look and see where our guys are in terms of conditioning. A lot of our guys, they’ve been working their butts off. I think that they knew eventually, this day would come, so I don’t think we’ve had anyone laying around on the couch, so I think with these guys, it’s within them to try to try to keep themselves in shape and that’s what they’ve done throughout their whole careers. It may not be exactly where we want to have them, but I think all of these guys have been working pretty hard.”

On what he anticipates coaching will be like in the return-to-play format:
“Well I think it’s going to be something different than any of us has ever experienced. We were on a call last week and Nick Nurse from Toronto – we were talking about playing without people in the stands – and he said ‘half of my career I’ve coached without people in the stands, I’ve been in the G League and the CBA,’ and I thought that was a pretty comical response, but I think it is something that you will adjust to, it’s going to be completely different. I do think that your bench is going to be very important from an enthusiasm standpoint. I think that’s where all the energy is going to come from, so you’re going to have to have a really good bench, but it’s going to be different in that the games are going to be up and down, and there’s going to be great plays made where there’s not going to be a lot of cheering or yelling or high-fiving, and that’s going to be different for all of these guys just because I don’t think anyone has ever played under those circumstances, and as a coach, I don’t think anyone has coached under those circumstances. As a coach though, I think it’s almost like they are in a practice situation because, obviously, you will have very few people there, like practice situations most of the time. I think it’s not a big change from the coaching part of it, but a pretty major change for the players out on the floor.”

On his level of concern regarding what is said to players or officials may be featured on a broadcast:
“I’m going to be very nice to the officials. Obviously, we’re in a situation where pretty much everything is going to be heard. Just the fact that we’re back playing, and really a lot of times what [the media and fans] may think is demonstrative responses to things is more of a competitive situation, and the one thing I will say, we have the best officials in all of sports. They’re very, very good at adapting, and they adapt to situations, they really do. They give you a lot of leeway and when it’s time to cut it off, they are very good a communicating that to you. They’re pretty good at allowing us a certain distance and then cutting it off.”

On how the coaching staff will improve mental toughness of the team in Orlando:
“I think communication is going to be key. You’re going to really have to be on top of things. Being isolated for a minimum of 45 days and a maximum of almost three months, almost 90 days, this is something no one has experienced either, so you’re going to have to make sure that you’re communicating with your guys. If there’s something on their mind, they have to feel comfortable enough to come in and talk about it, and not just the basketball part of it. Being in an environment where you’re limited in terms of where you can go and where you can travel and really being in a bubble, it’s going to be different for everyone. It’s going to be a challenge, but I have to think that communication is going to be the key there, and if your players are at a point where from a mental standpoint are wearing on them, then you’re going to have to find some solutions for that.”

On if he expects the entire roster to travel to Orlando:
“No one on the team has said that they were not going. I think it’s a situation where guys are ready to get back into playing and ready to compete so no one has mentioned it, nor has it ever come up in any of the conversations that I’ve had with them, with on Zoom calls, or individual calls, that they would not be going to Orlando.”

On his conversations with the players regarding today’s current events re. social justice:
“What we’ve talked about is the opportunity this presents for all of us. To be able to speak up, to be able to speak out. We’ve talked a lot about some of the situations that have happened, and I have to say that I was involved in a protest march here with my son, from city park down to one of the [police precincts], and it makes you proud of New Orleans the way everything has been handled here with the protests, from the standpoint of these being peaceful protests and trying to communicate and educate and things along those lines. The guys have talked about that, and obviously they have a platform with their social media and the players’ association in general. I think it’s a situation, and we’ve talked about this a lot, where it’s about communication and education, and maybe it’s time to have a tough conversation with one of your friends that you’ve kind of avoided. My son, he’s been having a lot of conversations with his friends that he went to school with at Newman, and for a lot of those guys, they just said ‘I didn’t know. It’s not that I didn’t care, I just didn’t know.’ So I think educating, and having conversations, and being able to talk to each other, and being able to ask questions is what our guys are going to try to implement in our voice that is going to be heard in these situations.”

On what challenges are presented to teams in regards to roster depth in the return-to-play format:
“It’s going to be interesting since it’s been so long since guys have played their last game, so it’s going to be interesting from a conditioning standpoint where they are, but I don’t anticipate any teams playing guys long, extended minutes. think in the first three scrimmage games that we have, I think you’ll have coaches trying to find out exactly where the conditioning is for their team, and trying to get the timing back, among other things. We’re really not going to be able to have any practices until we get there that would be five-on-five situations, so I think those three games you’ll try to figure that out, and the rotations I think will be a little deeper on the bench in that we’re playing eight games – 11 games if you really think about it – and that’s coming back from a long, long layoff, so I think we’ll have to keep an eye on those situations.”

On the Pelicans’ depth going into Orlando:
“I think our depth was beginning to show before this [hiatus] happened. We had played really good basketball on the road. I think more so than our depth, our starters and Zion and those guys, they were beginning to build a chemistry and their roles were so well defined, by themselves really, that we were playing really good basketball. We had guys coming in off the bench and they knew they may play five minutes, they may play three minutes, they may play 10 minutes. Our guys had come to the understanding that winning is the number one [goal] and all the other things would have to be put on the backburner and I thought that we were headed in that direction and playing good basketball.”

On his reaction to how the seeding games would work, and how some of the Pelicans’ head-to-head advantages against team would not be as impactful:
“I’m on the [competition] committee, and we talked a lot about how all of this is going to work when we get back. I think the one thing you’ve got to understand is there was no way that [the NBA] was going to come up with a plan that was satisfactory to everyone or being fair to everyone. I think [the NBA] worked their butts off to come to a situation where it would be as fair as they could possibly make it, it gave everyone an opportunity. I do agree with the fact that Memphis is already in the playoff position so they should have an advantage, I don’t think that you can argue with that. I think that what is going to happen is the teams that are going to be [in Orlando] are going to have a legitimate chance to be involved in an opportunity to make the playoffs and I think the NBA has presented that, and that’s all you can ask for. Everything else is going to be left up to the coaching and the individual teams in terms of trying to get there and get involved in the playoffs.”

On how this pandemic and return-to-play ranks in terms of the strangest things he’s had to deal with in his career as a coach in the NBA:
“I think this is different for everyone unless you are closing in on being 100 years old. It is more different than anyone had anticipated. Look around the city; it’s different for the restaurants, it’s different for stores, it’s different for everybody, and that’s the same for not just everyone throughout the country but the entire world. This is something that no one has a manual in terms of how to navigate this in any kind of way, so I think, number one, we have to try to be smart. We all need to do our part to keep everything as safe as we possibly can, and the social distancing, it plays a huge part in us at least being able to get this under control. It’s different for me, but this is the one time that I can say it’s different for everyone that’s involved in the NBA and everyone in the whole country and everyone in the whole world.”

On the status of players that were injured at the time the season was suspended:
“They’ve been working, and they’ve been working extremely hard. When we get practice times, we’ll have to work quickly and be able to evaluate your team quickly and try to put them back together and try to get them to a point where the chemistry is still there. What you do in these situations as I did and a lot of coaches did, you review all the games and you look at things you may want to change a little bit, or something you may want to add, or something that wasn’t very efficient that you want to take out. Those are all the things that happen in these situations, but guys continue to work and try to get better.”

On whether or not there will be any minute restrictions for players in Orlando:
“We’re not going to go down [to Orlando] and play guys 40 minutes, that doesn’t make sense, I don’t think. We’ll have to gauge. Obviously, we have a tremendous medical staff. We’ve already communicated with them and we’ll talk to the players. We’ll try to do what’s right in terms of being competitive, giving us an opportunity to win, but obviously not risking anything in terms of long-term future with players that are going to be an integral part of our franchise.”

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