MEMPHIS – New Orleans four-time All-Star forward Anthony Davis fully participated in Wednesday’s shootaround at FedEx Forum and said he’ll play in the team’s 2017-18 season opener. Davis sat out Tuesday practice due to illness, according to Alvin Gentry. The Pelicans will need everyone available tonight, because with five players ruled out due to injury or illness, they’re down to 10 full-fledged roster players (that excludes two-way contracts) to begin the 82-game regular season.
In addition to longer-term absences for Solomon Hill (hamstring), Omer Asik (illness) and Frank Jackson (foot), Rajon Rondo (core muscle) and Alexis Ajinca (knee) are recent additions to the group of New Orleans injuries.
New Orleans – which broke a five-game losing skid in Memphis’ arena with a February win last season – is expected to start Jrue Holiday and E’Twaun Moore in the backcourt, with Dante Cunningham, Davis and DeMarcus Cousins in the frontcourt. The five backup players on full-time NBA deals are Ian Clark, Jordan Crawford, Tony Allen, Darius Miller and Cheick Diallo. Jalen Jones and Charles Cooke are G League signees.
Clark, a Memphis native, on the ongoing process of developing chemistry entering opening night: “We feel good. It’s next man up. Obviously we’ve got guys down, but it doesn’t stop. The guys we have on our team have to be ready to step up and be ready to play. That’s what a team is about. It’s not just one guy. It’s 15, 16 guys locking in and being ready to go.”
Other notes from shootaround in Tennessee:
Allen already experienced a return of sorts to his previous NBA team last week for a preseason game, but still is preparing for an emotional night. The Grizzlies announced recently that they will retired Allen’s No. 9 jersey when the guard/forward’s playing days are over.
“I knew it was going to be emotional and tough coming back here,” Allen said, as he met with several Memphis reporters. “I have a lot of memories here. But for the most part, I’m looking forward to getting with the (Pelicans players) and starting my new journey.” …
To hear more from Davis as the Pelicans enter the regular season, listen to clips from his conversation with Sean Kelley during tonight’s pregame radio show (begins at 6:30 on WRNO 99.5 FM).