The New Orleans Pelicans enjoy the services of one of the league’s brightest talents in Anthony Davis, which makes their struggles all the more concerning. After going 30-52 in 2015-16, New Orleans is off to a woeful 7-16 start. It was to be expected that following a double-digit home loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, whispers–or shouts–questioning head coach Alvin Gentry’s job status would emerge.
It’s a convenient excuse to blame Gentry–who recently won a title as an assistant coach with the Warriors–but his hands have been tied with a mediocre roster. For much of his short tenure, key guards Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday have battled serious injuries. To compound matters, management has saddled the roster with bloated contracts to marginal role players–who would excel with teams like Golden State, Cleveland, San Antonio–but are being asked to do far too much.
Gentry faced the criticism following a 99-88 loss to the Sixers, and he responded forcefully. “"I really don't give a s--- about my job status," Gentry said following the game. "I'm going to work hard, and I'm going to coach until the day they tell me I'm not the coach here anymore. It doesn't matter. I don't ever worry about that. That isn't anything that I spend five seconds worrying about.
Gentry is right, because in a crowded Western Conference, he’s being asked to make lemonade with apples. Davis has performed well thus far, averaging 31.4 PPG–tops in the league–on an impressive 49.8 percent shooting. He also leads the league in blocks and ranks seventh in rebounding.
Davis’ supporting cast will not get much recognition outside of New Orleans. The team’s starting point guard–Tim Frazier–was on a 10-day contract last season, and big contracts to Langston Galloway, Solomon Hill, and E’Twaun Moore have largely been busts, although each has had their moments–when healthy, of course.
Hence, the Pelicans have a frustrated coach. "My worry is how do I get the guys in the locker room to play at the level that I want them to,” he added. “That's where all my effort goes. It doesn't go anywhere else."
Sadly for Gentry, the road gets no easier from here. Four of the Pelicans’ next six games come against the West’s four best teams–Golden State, San Antonio, Houston, and the Los Angeles Clippers. The other pits New Orleans with a losable matchup with the Indiana Pacers.
While Gentry might take the fall, he should not shoulder all the blame.