ZL: "The Pelicans announced yesterday that Tyreke Evans is undergoing knee surgery. The timeline for his return is unclear. One estimate: 4-6 weeks, which could be 10 games or 15 games. The following players are now injured for them: Tyreke Evans, Jrue Holiday (on a minute limit of 15 MPG), Omer Asik, Alexis Ajinca, Quincy Pondexter (out until at least November, who knows if that's early Nov. or late Nov.), Norris Cole (out indefinitely), Luke Babbitt (hamstring injury), this is the sneaky big story of the preseason ... this is now a thing. While I think the bottom of the Western Conference isn't as good as it was last season, and the win total for eighth seed might be a little bit lower, they're starting so far behind the eight ball, two of their first three games are against Golden State, they have Atlanta twice ... they just don't have enough viable NBA players right now."
KA: "Up until last week that was sort of the great theme with people who I've talked to ... I wasn't crazy about that perimeter rotation for the ingredients for a 54-win team to begin with. It's Holiday, who hasn't ever been healthy, Gordon who's never healthy, Tyreke (who's Tyreke?), Norris Cole and Cunningham. It's like, does that sound like a 52-win team? Maybe.
ZL: "The smart people around the league, I mean I've had people say 55 wins. Now, that to me, is out the window. They just don't have enough guys."
KA: "Tom Haberstroh's counterpoint, Anthony Davis. And that is the counterpoint. It's the obvious - he's the best player in the world right now. Now, I'm terrified for them ... that thing happens where you have the star... listen, everybody extends with the team that they were drafted to. This notion that guys leave before the extension is unprecedented, I think literally unprecedented. That said, you ahve that thing that happens where the superstar is on the clock, and can the team surround him with requisite talent, and they're in trouble."
ZL: "I think it's a little early 'for the superstar on the clock' I just wrote a prediction piece, one of them will be, 'Anthony Davis wins the MVP.' And the pushback is, 'You have to finish Top-3 in your conference, or else you just have no chance historically' and I actually think this presents an opportunity for that line of thinking, which is hogwash, to get turned on its head a little bit, because if Anthony Davis has an absolutely monstrous start, and carries this M.A.S.H. unit to 10-5 in the first 15, and then gradually guys come back and they get the No. 5 or No. 6 seed, I think he's going to have the case. Now, there's a lot of "ifs" there. And the thing about these training camp injuries you don't know, because they say when a guy is supposed to be back, but, 'is he in shape? How much time does he need to get going?' Suddenly it's Christmas. And they have like five of those guys."
KA: "Ironically, by virtue of them being in worse shape, he's going to be even a more impressive MVP candidate because he's going to be padding those numbers."
ZL: "They have a million players on minimum contracts ... they're paying the piper a little bit for the way they built this team. No way you could have predicted the injuries, amplified by the fact that the Sixers paid $3 million to them for not disclosing Jrue Holiday's injury issues at the time of the trade, but, they traded what amounts to two rotation players now for Jrue Holiday who can't play, who can't stay healthy. They traded R.Lopez and G.Vazquez to get Tyreke Evans, which is a 2 for 1, then they traded a pick to get Omer Asik to replace R.Lopez who's better than Asik, so like, that's almost a 3-for-1, and all of a sudden your depth is crippled and crippled. In their defense, they didn't do this to put 'old guys' around Anthony Davis. These are "young veterans" like Dell Demps like to say, Eric Gordon had a good season last year, they got Ryan Anderson for almost nothing in a brilliant move ... but with their depth issues, they're paying a price with an impatient strategy. Maybe last year's first-round playoff exit helps Anthony Davis, maybe it doesn't, I don't know."
KA: "Do you bank on six of your top 8-9 rotation players going down before the season? I don't think there's any team that can absorb that."
ZL: "They don't have a team."
KA: "No. They don't have a team."