Pelicans to limit Anthony Davis in camp, expect him ready for opener

NEW ORLEANS -- Pelicans star Anthony Davis will be eased back into action in training camp and the preseason, but the team expects him to be ready for its regular-season opener on Oct. 26.

Davis, 23, said he "feels fine" and is "all in" for practice and two-a-days after the first big medical procedure of his career, an ultrasonic debridement of his left knee in March. But Pelicans GM Dell Demps said the team is taking a long view with Davis' recovery.

"We're going to be real smart with him during training camp," Demps said at Friday's media day. "So if you come to practice or you see him not working out, our goal is to get him 100 percent ready for the start of the regular season. So we're going to be monitoring his workload. We do expect him to be full go on opening night."

Davis, a three-time All-Star, reiterated his commitment to New Orleans for the long term and to staying on the court after failing to reach 70 games played in each of his first four NBA seasons.

"This offseason was big just to get back on the floor," he said. "Where some of our guys wanted to improve their games, mine was, 'Can I be ready for the first game.' I'm ready. From there, [it was about] withstanding an entire season without missing games. Stuff happens. You can't control what happens. But stuff that I can control, I want to control. I think our doctors and our trainers are doing a great job of getting me back to that point. I feel like I can withstand an 82-game season right now."

Meanwhile, the Pelicans will not have Tyreke Evans and Quincy Pondexter for the start of the season. Demps said both former starters could be available as early as November, but returns in December or January are more realistic.

Evans, 27, underwent three surgeries on his right knee in the span of nine months and revealed Friday that he also suffered a blood clot in his calf following the most recent procedure, an osteochondral autograft transfer system (OATS) procedure to replace cartilage in three areas of his knee in February.

Evans said that though the clot was painful, he was given pills by doctors and it went away after two days. Evans said the issue wasn't a concern moving forward, and that he maintains a good relationship with the organization.

When asked what the last hurdle in his recovery was, Evans said, "Just getting my knee stronger. I'm working out right now and I'm able to put the ball on the floor, moving pretty good. A lot of people say they can't really tell that I'm hurt, but I just know I need to get a little bit stronger. That's just rehab with the trainers, getting my quad stronger."

Pondexter, who missed all of last season after having two surgeries on his left knee, said there's no swelling and there have been no setbacks in his recovery, but Demps said the team has "decided to take it a little bit slower moving forward."

"It's not like it was one little scope, or one little surgery. It's two major surgeries," Pondexter said. "It's been 16 months, and it still has to get a lot stronger again for me to play or withstand an NBA season or game.

"We're working on it. We're using all our resources to make it better. I'm really looking forward to stepping back on that court. I know I'm probably going to bust out in tears, for sure."

Pondexter, 27, has participated in some team workouts this offseason. When asked if Pondexter will ever play again, Demps said that he's "betting on him returning."

"It's been a long, long journey," Pondexter said. "There's not a person that's attacked their situation or worked harder than me in this thing. I wish everyone knew how much I'm working and I'm dedicating my life to getting back on the court and playing for this team and this organization."

Evans and Pondexter will not travel with the Pelicans to China for their two preseason Global Games matchups with the Houston Rockets. Demps said they'll receive better estimates for both players in two to four weeks.

When asked if any of the recovering players had setbacks or additional procedures this offseason, Demps said, "I think in any type of rehab, there are setbacks sometimes. There are situations where guys are going back and forth and getting there, and I think that's part of it. But nothing that I would say has not been anticipated."

Point guard Jrue Holiday is expected to miss an undetermined portion of the start of the season to be with his wife, Lauren Holiday, who is expected to undergo surgery to remove a benign tumor from the right side of her brain, and care for their newborn daughter.

New Orleans lost 351 games to injury and illness last season, the second most in the past decade, and finished 12th in the Western Conference at 30-52.