NEW ORLEANS — One year ago at this time the Pelicans were rolling into the playoffs on a high note that continued into an opening-series sweep of the Portland Blazers before a second round exit to the eventual NBA champs.
When the 2018-19 season started, the Pels rolled out of the gate 4-0 and then the injuries, which seem to fell the Pels every year, started again. Elfrid Payton got the first of many injuries this season and Anthony Davis injured himself on an ESPN-highlight dunk.
Pretty soon the team, which wasn't very deep, was in a funk and every single sports network and digital site that covered pro basketball started opining about how long Anthony Davis would hang around. The answer was a few dozen more games.
Near the end of January, shortly after the New Orleans Saints were robbed of a shot at the Super Bowl came more bad news for the city's sports fans. Anthony Davis wanted a divorce and he wanted it now. The Pelicans, probably not sure of exactly what they should do, decided not to rush into anything, so Davis 'played' (and that term is used very loosely) the rest of the season. He basically asked for a divorce but kept living under the same roof though he didn't want to be here and the team likely didn't want him around either.
Tuesday night, the season ended with the team winning 33 games and losing 49. They'll receive a lottery pick of their own and perhaps another one for Davis.
"I think he’s a great kid," said Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry after the team's season-ending loss to Golden State. "He’s a very good kid. I think he’s a solid guy. (Inaudible) I think he got some bad advice. If you want me to just tell the truth, and I’ll leave it at that. But there’s nothing wrong with AD. He’s a good, solid guy."
Davis didn't leave with any final words, though apparently he will on Wednesday morning. The shirt he wore prior to the game and on the sidelines, with the Looney Tunes' iconic character Porky Pig's saying "That's all folks," could have been interpreted in many ways.
What did happen is that it was shown all around the sports world. The Pelicans will likely get some attractive offers for Davis, especially once the draft lottery results are in, but whether they'll be able to turn any picks or players into a winning formula is unknown.
Gentry though, says he is certain.
"I told them that we’re going to be good next year and we’re going to make the damn playoffs. I said that and I mean that. I believe that."
Of the players that were on last year's talented roster, Boogie Cousins, Rajon Rondo, Nikola Mirotic and now Anthony Davis, will all be gone.
Who will replace them and whether they can stay healthy are questions only time will answer.