Pelicans Part Ways With GM Dell Demps

Amidst the Anthony Davis drama in New Orleans, the Pelicans have decided to part ways with general manager Dell Demps, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

According to Wojnarowski, the Pelicans intend to be “aggressive” in the marketplace in hiring a high-level basketball executive to replace Demps. For now, they’re considering internal candidates such as special advisor Danny Ferry and director of player personnel David Booth to fill the GM role on an interim basis.

[UPDATE: Danny Ferry named Pelicans’ interim GM]

While it’s possible that Ferry and/or Booth could be in the mix for the permanent job in New Orleans, owner Gayle Benson is telling associates that she wants an overhaul of the organization, according to Wojnarowski, who reports that ownership was “livid” about Davis leaving the arena early on Thursday night. After suffering a shoulder injury in the second quarter of Thursday’s game, an impressive win over the Thunder, Davis left with agent Rich Paul to get an MRI before the game was over.

[RELATED: Anthony Davis diagnosed with shoulder muscle contusion]

Demps, a former NBA player, had been the general manager in New Orleans since July of 2010, taking over the role back when the team was still known as the Hornets. Despite landing the No. 1 overall pick and selecting Davis in the 2012 draft, the franchise has earned just three playoff berths during Demps’ tenure, including two since drafting Davis. The club earned its lone playoff series win last spring, a first-round sweep of the Trail Blazers.

The Pelicans entered the 2018/19 season hoping to build on that first-round victory, but have been outside the playoff picture since the fall. Things went from bad to worse in January, when Paul publicly requested a trade on behalf of Davis.

Demps and the front office elected not to move AD before the deadline despite some aggressive offers from the Lakers, and had hoped to re-open trade discussions with multiple teams, including the Celtics, in the offseason. However, it appears as if a new executive will be tasked with maximizing the return on Davis this summer.

According to Wojnarowski, ownership’s plan with its new GM will be to continue pushing back on Davis’ preferred destinations if they don’t make sense for the Pelicans. The All-NBA big man is said to prefer a move to the Lakers, Knicks, Clippers, or Bucks.

Meanwhile, sources tell Wojnarowski that ownership and senior management has been pleased with head coach Alvin Gentry, who has been responsible for keeping his players focused during a tumultuous stretch for the franchise. Still, while Gentry is in good standing with ownership, a new general manager will likely to get to make a decision on the club’s long-term head coach, tweets Scott Kushner of The Advocate.

The Pelicans’ current front office structure is one of the more unusual ones in the NBA, as Mickey Loomis is technically the team’s president, ranking above Demps on the basketball operations hierarchy. However, Loomis – who was installed by late owner Tom Benson, Gayle’s husband – is primarily a football executive, serving in a similar role for the New Orleans Saints.

Loomis has mostly stayed out of the Pelicans’ basketball decisions, letting Demps and his staff make those calls. It will be interesting to see if the team modifies its management hierarchy at all during this period of upheaval.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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44 thoughts on “Pelicans Part Ways With GM Dell Demps

  1. mcmillankmm

    NO is going to turn into a disaster….I wouldn’t be shocked if this team was playing in Seattle in 5-7 years

    • jkoms57

      The league will put them on life support. Anything to keep those television ratings up.

      Memphis on the other hand, Seattle is on line 1..

      • x%sure

        The NBA has helped NO before, franchise-wise. Different commissioner though.

  2. dlevin11

    Demps should have taken Lakers offer(s) for AD. He would still have a job, Pelicans would have a decent team and be rid of a player hurt every other week

    • twinnb15

      With AD’s new injury and instability within the NO organization, I don’t see them getting a return that they’ve hoped for or could have received from LA.

    • Steve

      Right on,

      He did what his former boss from the Spurs wanted him to do and other small market teams. It was evident he was gettiyfired when reports came out that most in the organization wanted to take the deal. I love Tatum, but he’s not that much better than Kuz and BI right now. Look at what he’s doing this season and not what he did in a small sample end of last season. And I don’t truly believe the Celtics will offer Tatum. He screwed his self and the team. The Lakers havevthe best overall package and he blew it.

      • sportznut1000

        man, your off your rocker if you think tatum is as good as kuzma and ingram. tatum at least can be an all pro at some point. kuzma and ingram probably will be lucky to make 1 all star game total between the 2 of them. your right that some sort of ingram/kuzma/ball/hart deal will probably end up being their best offer but how much would that really help them? having any 2 or 3 of those guys with julius randle didnt really work out to well for lakers last year. at best it makes new orleans a 9 or 10 seed in west which doesnt help you rebuild. they are better off waiting to try and get a package from boston or losing davis for a lot less which puts them in the cellar with the suns to get a top 5 prospect in draft every year

        • x%sure

          @Steve didn’t say that. The three are merely close in value, and the Lakers have two of them. And Tatum may not be offered anyway.

        • Yes the Lakers players coming back likely aren’t going to make the Pelicans championship contenders, but its not a guarantee that Boston’s offer is any better. And goodluck selling a fanbase on the reason why they let AD walk for nothing instead of trading him for something of value. I mean the Pelicans’ options are basically (A) trade AD for assets and be mediocre to bad but have a shot at being a contender again in 3-5 years if they hit on their draft picks/the young players they acquire can be complementary pieces of a contender or (B) let AD walk for nothing and push the window to contention likely closer to a 6-10 year window. Both scenarios require drafting and correctly developing at least most of your draft picks but the rebuild is easier if you have pieces already in place (via trade) than through a complete tear down.

          • implant

            Unless Tatum is one of the top ten players in the league right now the Pels screwed the pooch

  3. Connorsoxfan

    Celtics don’t have to offer Tatum anymore if they don’t want to!

    • supercollider

      Davis’s injury lowers the ask. Hard to see Boston offering a lot for an injured player who may be gone in 12 months.

      • Connorsoxfan

        Well that plus with Demps gone so is any promised offer, which must’ve been there for him to turn down every young lakers player plus two first rounders.

        • Fkap0038

          Demps would have been gone anyway you look at it, he failed at putting a team around AD plain and simple… demps saved any chance for any other team to hire by not trading him.

    • I mean to compete with the Lakers’ offer (assuming its still on the table in the offseason), Tatum will have to be in the offer. Some combination of Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier, or Marcus Smart is less valuable than the players that the Lakers offered. And the bevy of picks the Celtics might have aren’t as valuable as they once were. The Memphis (top-8 protected) and LAC (lottery protected) picks might not even switch hands this season. And the Sacramento pick is looking like its going to either fall at the end of the lottery/just outside the lottery. Considering this draft seems to only have 2-3 clear top options (Zion, Barrett, Morant) that further reduces the value of the picks. Boston shouldn’t trade Tatum unless AD is going to resign, but I don’t see New Orleans moving AD to Boston unless Tatum is in the deal.

      • D$!LLKU$H-og

        I really do think the Knicks have the best chance. You mentioned top heavy draft well NYK have a guaranteed top 5 and most likely top 3. That would get them Zion, Ja or Barrett. That plus DSJ,Frank,Knox,Robinson maybe s&t Mudiay and whoever else plus one of the DAL picks and that should get the job done. Unless you get Tatum,Brown,Smart,Rozier and most or all of those picks from BOS you take the Knicks offer.

        • If the Knicks get a top 3 pick I agree that they have the best offer (assuming the Pelicans like all three of those guys). Although, I don’t know if the Knicks would make a deal unless/until another star joins the Knicks via free agency. Even though AD did say he would resign with the Knicks, it just doesn’t make sense for them to commit those assets in a deal if AD is the only big name going to New York. They’d run the risk of AD just walking at the end of the season as he likely wouldn’t be eager to commit long term if he’s the only star player on the Knicks.

  4. Demps lasted as long as he did because ownership never really cared much about the team. Benson’s passion was the Saints. He bought the Pels from the league to keep it in N.O. and (at Stern’s suggestion) left the league’s lackey GM in charge, and never paid much attention. Benson’s dead and his wife cares even less, and the people advising her less than that.

    The “basketball guy working without meddling ownership” model could work here if they get the right guy. But a move to another City wouldn’t surprise me either, and I’m not sure the league would care at this point. They didn’t want to sell to a group in another City (after forcing the other owners, in effect, to buy the team to keep that from happening), but that’s not relevant now.

    • x%sure

      Was it Stern’s initiative or the owners? If it was the owners, the odds of a repeat increase. I think it was Stern though, and he’s gone.

      With Seattle so available, Silver could look at it overall and say, well if the Pels don’t move, then the Grizzlies will, so… how to intervene.

      “Fairness-wise”, NO has an NFL team and more special events, with about the same population. Interference should be reversed this time… Pelicans to Sonics.

  5. Aircool

    Hahahahahaha…. I was talking with a friend about how he wouldn’t have a job by the summer…. But this is just too perfect…. Truly a horrible GM.

  6. Bryzzo2016

    Good! See ya! That clown is to blame for all this AD garbage. The Pels will never get a package better than what the Lakers offered. People keep taking about Boston, yet AD never said he wanted to go there. Kyrie probably won’t even stay there. So they’re gonna top the Laker offer for potentially one year of AD? Nope. Demps over played his hand and now he’s unemployed.

  7. david722

    Probably no good way to navigate it successfully, and he certainly handled it poorly. but this was a tragic situations for all involved.

    That said, not sure why people think Lakers can offer the best package. Boston’s players are well just better.

    • Boston’s offer is only better if Tatum is in the deal. Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma have more value than Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier/Marcus Smart. The Lakers’ deal also offered cap relief which the Celtics can’t easily offer (Marcus Smart would be entering the 2nd year of his new contract and Terry Rozier would need a contract extension). Plus the extra first round picks they have this year might not even change hands; the Memphis pick is top-8 protected and the Clippers pick is lottery protected while Sacramento’s pick is looking like its going to fall near the back of the lottery if they don’t make the playoffs.

  8. kenleyfornia2

    LOL should have taken Kuzma Ingram and Ball a 1st when you had the chancs

  9. Ptn18

    New Orleans owner said she is upset that “outside forces” (Rich Paul would be a good guess) have been trying to pressure the organization into situations that don’t make sense for them. Says she is going to take back control from those “outside forces.” Dave Griffin mentioned as possible GM. Says Gentry is safe for rest of season, and new GM will determine if he stays.

  10. tatumszn2018

    Called it. Now I expect Davis to go (in trade) for a bag of hot fries, half a bag of m n m’s (plain) and a RC Cola.

  11. implant

    Wonder if his buddy Pops will be giving him a job. You know, the same Pops who called Demps and told him I don’t care if Magic offers part ownership of the Dodgers whatever you do don’t deal with the Lakers because I hate them m

  12. hill

    What are you doing AD?!

    I’m all about player empowerment but you are under contract. You signed it. You take the pay check every week.

    Bullying your way out didn’t work.

    Now you’re holding the organisation hostage?

    And dodging the media while hiding behind your bodyguard/agent?

    What are you DOING

    • Wait…but AD is playing. Against the wishes of New Orleans in fact. In regards to him leaving early, supposedly the Pelicans’ arena doesn’t have an MRI machine and the team’s physicians actually suggested he go and get one. Don’t know if that is true but that’s what has been reported.

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