Obviously, the more games the Pelicans lose increases their draft lottery odds. But Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said Saturday, they are still trying to win games though their top five scores, including star forward Anthony Davis, are out with injuries. The Pelicans start a three-game road trip on Sunday against the Brooklyn Nets and includes games against Philadelphia on Tuesday and Boston on Wednesday. The Pelicans are 1-11 on the road against Eastern Conference teams.
“You don’t go out there trying to lose basketball games,” he said Wednesday. “I think that’s a bad way to present that to your team, ‘We’re trying to lose so we can protect the top-three pick.’ That’s a bad omen to me. “It sets a bad precedent to me, especially this organization and the people that’s been in this organization for a long time and understand what this organization is all about, we’ve never been like that and never will be. So I would never, even behind closed doors, tell my players, tell my coaches, tell my trainers or anybody that we were trying to lose games on purpose to protect the pick.”
Scott wasn’t quite done with his thought process. “I’m not coaching, looking at the clock, going, ‘All right, man, if we can just turn it over a few more times and miss a few more shots, this game is in the bag as far as a loss is concerned.’ That’s not me,” he said. “We’re trying to win every game and trying to build something with the young guys that we have here.”
“I don’t think anyone’s trying to come into games and lose,” Stauskas said. “I don’t think that’s ever the case. But it’s tough. When you’re in the NBA, you’ve got guys who are 21, 22 years old, and don’t really have experience, it’s going to be tough to beat veteran teams who’ve been around the league eight, nine years and have proven yourselves. So just naturally, being this young, there’s going to be times when you struggle and things don’t go the way you want. But I think with the approach this team’s had the last couple of years, they’ve started adding pieces — drafting Nerlens, drafting Jahlil, drafting Joel, even though he’s hurt. So we’ve got pieces now. It’s just about putting it together.”
NBA commissioner Adam Silver told the Globe on Thursday that the league’s owners have agreed to retain the NBA’s draft lottery system indefinitely. The current system gives the highest probability of landing the top overall pick to the team with the league’s worst record. There have been complaints over the past few seasons about teams, such as the Philadelphia 76ers, tanking games to improve their chances of a higher lottery pick.
As I reported from the summer league in July, the league introduced an odds-reform proposal that would have made Cleveland-style leaps more likely by cutting the chances for the worst teams. The proposal was an anti-tanking measure clearly aimed at the Sixers, and it didn’t get the required supermajority in an October vote. Kiki Vandeweghe, the league’s senior vice-president of basketball operations and last night’s drawing room MC, told me the discussion has been tabled for now. “I don’t see anything happening in the immediate future,” Vandeweghe said. “We will continue to study it.”