4:46pm: Team owner Tom Benson has officially announced that Gentry and Demps will be retained, Kushner tweets.
10:38am: The Pelicans won’t be making any major changes at head coach or general manager this offseason, according to Scott Kushner of The Advocate. League sources inform Kushner that coach Alvin Gentry and GM Dell Demps will both keep their jobs to begin the 2017/18 season.
Gentry and Demps were both already under contract for next year, but that didn’t necessarily assure their returns — Pelicans owner Tom Benson and executive VP of basketball operations Mickey Loomis were said in late April to be evaluating the team’s current leadership group. After a disappointing 2016/17 season that resulted in a 34-48 record – rather than the playoff spot the Pelicans had hoped for – Gentry and Demps were believed to be on the hot seat.
Gentry has coached the Pelicans for the last two full seasons, compiling a 64-100 record (.390) during that stretch. As for Demps, he has been New Orleans’ general manager since 2010, though the team’s front office structure is somewhat confusing — Loomis’ title suggests he ranks higher in the basketball operations department than Demps, but Loomis isn’t believed to be overly involved in personnel decisions, since – as the GM of the New Orleans Saints – he’s more of an NFL executive.
According to Kushner, the Pelicans’ in-seasons acquisition of DeMarcus Cousins played a significant part in the decision to retain Demps going forward. While Demps’ ability to land Cousins for a modest package was impressive, sources tell Kushner that the franchise also wants to provide some stability around Cousins as he enters the final year of his contract — overhauling the coaching staff and the front office wouldn’t provide that desired stability.
Although Gentry and Demps are safe for now, there will be plenty of pressure on the duo heading into 2017/18. According to Kushner, it’s “unlikely” that either Gentry or Demps can survive another sub-.500 season.