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As trade deadline nears, Williams laments injuries that left Pelicans' potential unrealized

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METAIRIE, La. - Eric Gordon expressed confidence Tuesday that he won't be traded this season and said it would be premature to break up the team that Pelicans general manager Dell Demps and coach Monty Williams put together for this season.

The NBA trade deadline is Thursday afternoon, and with 30 games left, the Pelicans (23-29) are 7 1/2 games out of the Western Conference's final playoffs spot.

Still, they wonder how much better they might have been if not for injuries to high-scoring forward Ryan Anderson and starting point guard Jrue Holiday.

"This year we only played 20 games together as a team and that's definitely not near enough time," Gordon said. "It's going to take a full year."

Given the likelihood of Anderson missing the rest of the season and Holiday missing more games, Gordon said the Pelicans "have to possibly wait until next year" to get a better sense of how good the current mix of key players on the roster can be.

New Orleans coach Monty Williams, whose team hosts New York on Wednesday night, said "nothing has changed" regarding the condition of Holiday, a former Eastern Conference All-Star who has averaged 14.3 points and 7.9 assists in 34 games this season, but who has been out "indefinitely" with a fractured right shin since Jan. 10.

The same goes for Anderson, who'd averaged 19.8 points in 22 games before a collision with Boston's Gerald Wallace on Jan. 3 left the Pelicans' 6-foot-10 forward with a herniated disk.

Given the constant lineup shuffling, Williams said he's "not disappointed in anything" related to his team's effort.

"We're six games below .500. I mean, I don't know how that's losing, with all that we've been through," Williams said. "We've proven a lot and we're going to prove even more.

"I'm more frustrated with the injuries," Williams said. "It kind of holds you back from having the team that you envisioned on the floor. ... You've got to move on, and yet you wonder what you could have been like if you would have had those guys."

Still, roster moves might help.

New Orleans has been lacking a second productive big man to take pressure off of All-Star Anthony Davis. Meanwhile, the production of starting small forward Al-Farouq Aminu has vacillated wildly. He is averaging 7.4 points and 6.7 rebounds.

At the same time, the Pelicans have an abundance of guards. Even with Holiday hurt, New Orleans has been unable to find room on the roster for second-round pick Pierre Jackson, who leads the NBA Development League with a scoring average of 29.1 points.

Gordon has said he's been told by Pelicans management that he's not being shopped around, and on Tuesday added, "I'm not really worried about it. I've been hearing stuff for years now. I think I'm going to be here and I'll be fine."

New Orleans currently has five healthy guards: Gordon, Tyreke Evans, Anthony Morrow, Brian Roberts and Austin Rivers, and may ultimately see wisdom in moving at least one of them in exchange for more help on the wing or at centre.

Such help is not likely to come in next summer's draft. Last year's trade that brought Holiday to New Orleans gave Philadelphia the Pelicans' first-round pick — unless that pick winds up in the top five. However, given the number of teams faring even worse than New Orleans, odds are against the Pelicans getting a top-five pick in the NBA's draft lottery.

In other words, while the Pelicans probably would need a double-digit winning streak to climb back into playoff contention, they've also played well enough that it would now take a losing streak of embarrassing proportions to virtually guarantee themselves a protected top-five draft slot.

Williams would rather his players tune out such scenarios and focus simply on daily improvement.

"The only thing we've said is, 'Anything can happen,'" Williams said. "I work like I'm in the finals every single day. That's how we approach it."

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