12:23pm: Demps denied Wojnarowski’s report in comments he made today to reporters, the GM’s first talk with the media since October, as Scott Kushner of The New Orleans Advocate and Justin Verrier of ESPN.com relay (See all Twitter links right here). Demps said his confidence in Gentry hasn’t wavered. Gentry stood next to Demps for the impromptu press conference and said he expects to remain the coach and that he and Demps work well together. Demps also addressed his own job security, saying, “I feel great about my job. I come to work every day and feel great about it,” as The Advocate’s Brett Dawson notes (Twitter link).
9:44am: Pelicans GM Dell Demps has expressed reservations on numerous occasions this season about last year’s decision to hire Alvin Gentry as coach, making his doubts known to some of the team’s players and staff, and to opponents as well, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical for a video report. It was Demps who originally chose Gentry for the job, as Wojnarowski casts it, though confusion exists over whether Demps or executive vice president of basketball operations Mickey Loomis is in control of the front office, as Zach Lowe of ESPN.com touched on in a trade deadline report.
Gentry’s first season in New Orleans has gone much more poorly than expected, as injuries have devastated a roster that was expected to improve on last season’s playoff berth. The Pelicans are 26-45, eight and a half games out of a postseason spot. Anthony Davis, Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans, Quincy Pondexter and Bryce Dejean-Jones have all suffered season-ending injuries. The NBA granted hardship provisions for a 16th roster spot on at least three occasions this season, and it appears the team will use a fourth to sign Jordan Hamilton. That’s on top of a preseason rash of injuries that forced a whirlwind of moves in October.
Loomis was interested in Tom Thibodeau last spring, but Demps was against the idea, wary that the headstrong former Bulls coach would engender more conflict of the sort that Demps endured with former coach Monty Williams, as Wojnarowski reported at the time. Thibodeau, who remains out of coaching, never wound up talking with the Pelicans before they hired Gentry, according to USA Today’s Sam Amick.
Gentry is on a relatively cheap contract worth a total of $13.75MM over four years. That figure includes a $4MM team option on the final season. Demps’ contract status is unclear. Rumors have surfaced occasionally over the past two years about former Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars joining the Pelicans front office in a similar role.
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