Dell Demps

Small-Market GMs Upset NBA Won’t Enforce Tampering Rules

11:02am: An NBA spokesperson has issued the following tampering-related statement to Wojnarowski (Twitter link): “Each case is assessed on its own facts. In general, absent evidence of team coordination or other aggravating factors, it is not tampering when a player makes a comment about his interest in playing with another team’s player.”

10:26am: After LeBron James said this week that it would be “amazing” to team up with Anthony Davis in Los Angeles, general managers of smaller-market teams are “privately expressing outrage” over what they perceive as the NBA’s unwillingness to enforce its own tampering rules, writes ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

[RELATED: Anthony Davis responds to LeBron’s comments]

Tampering penalties are typically levied on executives who discuss other teams’ players, with the Lakers having been on the receiving end of a pair of fines from the NBA in recent years for Magic Johnson‘s and Rob Pelinka‘s comments and actions. Players have generally been permitted to freely discuss other teams’ players without fear of reprisal from the league. However, as Wojnarowski notes, the NBA’s bylaws suggest players can be hit with tampering penalties as well. Those bylaws include the following section:

“Any Player who, directly or indirectly, entices, induces, persuades or attempts to entice, induce or persuade any Player, Coach, Trainer, General Manager, or any other person who is under contract to any other Member of the Association to enter into negotiations for or relating to his services shall, on being charged with such tampering, should be given an opportunity to answer to such charges after due notice and the Commissioner shall have the power to decide whether or not the charges have been sustained.”

According to Wojnarowski, multiple GMs reached out to Pelicans GM Dell Demps this week to “express dismay,” since they believe the NBA tacitly endorses comments like the ones James made, as they help generate drama, headlines, and discussion for the league.

“It’s New Orleans’ problem today, and a problem with a different player tomorrow for the rest of us,” one Eastern Conference GM told ESPN. “It’s open season on small markets and our players.”

“If these are the rules, enforce them,” one Western Conference GM said. “If you want to push Anthony Davis in L.A., if you allow LeBron to interfere with teams, then just do it. Change the rules, and say ‘It’s the wild, wild west and anything goes.’ But give us a list of the rules that you’re enforcing, and give us a list of the rules that you’re going to ignore.”

While it would be one thing if Davis was on the verge of reaching free agency, small-market GMs are also dismayed at the fact that these sort of public comments are being made about a player who can’t even become a free agent until 2020, per Wojnarowski.

“Interference is as bad as tampering — maybe worse in this case,” an Eastern GM said. “This becomes a campaign meant to destabilize another organization, install chaos and unrest that make it harder to keep an environment that the player would want to stay in. There’s no use in complaining to the league about it. We all get that it’s a players’ league, but there are rules on the books that they need to follow too.”

For his part, Demps didn’t offer any comment to Wojnarowski, but told Jennifer Hale of Fox Sports (Twitter link) earlier this week that the Pelicans were “leaving it up to the league” to determine whether James’ comments qualified as tampering.

Southwest Notes: Gentry, Morrow, Gasol, White

Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry weighed in on the comments made by former NBA commissioner David Stern, labeling the importance of staying focused on the current team instead of outside noise. Stern ripped Pelicans GM Dell Demps this week, calling him a “lousy general manager.”

“For us, we worry about our team,” Gentry said, according to Will Guillory of The Athletic (Twitter link). “We worry about our franchise. I’ve got a great working relationship with Dell. I think we’ve got a good team that we put out on the floor because of he and (president) Mickey (Loomis). That’s all I need to say. I think what has happened here is our franchise has a really bright future and that’s all that needs to be said.”

The Pelicans have started the 2018/19 season on a red-hot note, winning each of their three games in impressive fashion. Led by Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday and a nice collection of young assets, New Orleans has designed its roster to compete for many years to come.

The Pelicans also released a statement on Stern’s comments, backing their general manager and claiming their excitement for playing under current NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

Here are other notes from the Southwest Division:

  • Free agent Anthony Morrow is interested in joining the Rockets if the team looks for additional shooting, according to The Athletic’s Kelly Iko. “Absolutely,” Morrow said. Mike (D’Antoni) knows I love him, tell him to give me a call.”
  • Marc Gasol is dealing with neck soreness and is considered day-to-day, the Grizzlies said (Twitter link). Gasol suffered the injury on Wednesday against the Kings, with fears that he could miss extended time.
  • Despite having no timetable for a return, Spurs guard Derrick White continues to progress in his recovery from left heel pain that’s sidelined him since the preseason, according to Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News (Twitter link). “He’s progressing as they hoped,” coach Gregg Popovich said.

Pelicans Respond To Stern’s Comments On Demps

Earlier today, we shared snippets of a conversation between former NBA Commissioner David Stern and Chris Ballard of SI.com, wherein Stern spoke on numerous issues involving the NBA. Among them was his role in the Lakers’ near trade for Chris Paul from the New Orleans Hornets in 2011. In elaborating on that deal and its eventual breakdown, Stern was quoted as saying:

“But Dell Demps (GM of the then Hornets and current Pelicans since 2010) is a lousy general manager and none of those players are currently with the team anymore, and he may lose Anthony Davis.”

Well, the Pelicans apparently weren’t willing to take those comments lying down, responding with a statement earlier tonight, which reads, in pertinent part:

“We are very disappointed to read the inappropriate and inaccurate comments from the former NBA Commissioner regarding the New Orleans Pelicans. Our organization has the utmost confidence in our General Manager, Dell Demps. He is part of our family, the NBA family… Our organization is excited and proud to be part of the NBA with the progressive and innovative leadership of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.”

Of course, Stern and Silver share a relationship stemming from Silver serving as Stern’s deputy commissioner for eight years. Stern even endorsed Silver to become his successor. Accordingly, it’s interesting that the Pelicans chose to use Silver to backhandedly cast aspersions on Stern. Silver and the NBA have yet to comment.

David Stern Talks Gambling, Warriors, CP3 Trade

Since leaving his post in 2014, David Stern hasn’t often spoken publicly and candidly about the major issues and controversies he dealt with during his long tenure as the NBA’s commissioner. However, Stern opened up about a few of those topics during a conversation with Chris Ballard of SI.com.

Stern, who insists he stepped down as NBA commissioner rather than retiring, continues to stay peripherally involved in the sport of basketball, investing in gambling, wearables, and streaming apps.

Speaking to Ballard, he explained why he’s now enthusiastic about sports gambling after being opposed to it during his time as commissioner, and shared his opinion on a few NBA stories, past and present. The piece is worth checking out in full, but here are a few highlights from Stern:

On why he’s no longer opposed to legalized gambling on the NBA:

“I always said the reason we don’t want to have gambling is because we don’t want Junior going to the game and coming away disappointed because the home team won but they didn’t cover. But as soon as they allowed daily fantasy, I said that’s it, there’s no sense in having daily fantasy and not being in favor of betting — especially when you add in the fact that so much of it is already done offshore illegally and lining the coffers of some people you don’t know.”

On the Warriors’ current dynasty, and whether it’s bad for basketball:

“It’s great. They’ve got a great team. Interesting players, a dynamic coach, owners that demonstrate that they care, they’re about to open up a billion-dollar-plus building…. I think it’s only good. And I don’t believe in the debate about super-teams, because when I started there were two super-teams: the Celtics and Lakers…. Look at the attendance and the ratings and the product sales. We’re the most metricized business there is, and all signs are positive.”

On his decision not to approve the Chris Paul-to-the-Lakers trade when he was serving as New Orleans’ de facto owner in 2011:

“I did it because I was protecting the then Hornets…. To this day everyone always asks me, ‘Well, why did you keep Chris Paul from going to the Lakers?’ I didn’t keep him. I didn’t approve the trade. No team sells or trades a future Hall-of-Famer without the owner signing off, and I was the owner’s rep. But I wasn’t going to hand up [New Orleans GM] Dell Demps.”

More on the failed Paul trade with the Lakers, and the Clippers deal he eventually approved:

“I didn’t do a great job of explaining it at the time. There was a trade that Dell Demps wanted us to approve and I said heck no, but he had told [Rockets GM] Daryl Morey and [then-Lakers GM] Mitch Kupchak he had authority to do it and he didn’t. I said no. We just settled a lockout and you want me to approve a basketball trade?

“[Demps] had agreed to [trade Paul to the Lakers for] Kevin Martin and Luis Scola or something, and I said we can do better than that…. And the next trade was [to the Clippers for] Eric Gordon and Al-Farouq Aminu and what we thought was a really great draft pick, the 10th pick, which turned out to be Austin Rivers. At least those three and someone else [center Chris Kaman]. But Dell Demps is a lousy general manager and none of those players are currently with the team anymore, and he may lose Anthony Davis.”

Pelicans Notes: Rondo, Mirotic, Cousins, Benson, Gentry

At 32 years old, Rajon Rondo is not a building block for an organization, but he’s an experienced and valuable veteran who plays well on the game’s biggest stage. Although Rondo’s future with the Pelicans is uncertain as he heads for unrestricted free agency this summer, the point guard spoke highly of the team in his exit press conference, William Guillory of The Times-Picayune writes.

“We’ll see how it goes,” Rondo said. “I love this group of guys. It’s a group of good guys. I love playing for coach (Alvin) Gentry. We’ll see how it goes. … This group of guys is special. I think we obviously went up against the defending champs. We played extremely well and we’ve got a lot to learn from. You play a team like that, you’ve got no option but to get better.”

During the first two rounds of the postseason, Rondo averaged 10.3 PPG and 12.2 APG for the Pelicans, living up to the “Playoff Rondo” moniker he has earned during his career. Rondo was solid during the regular season as well, posting totals of 8.3 PPG and 8.2 APG. During his press conference with reporters, general manager Dell Demps said that re-signing Rondo will be a critical part of the offseason, given his leadership abilities, tweets Scott Kushner of The Advocate.

Check out more Pelicans notes down below:

  • Nikola Mirotic joined the Pelicans in a midseason trade from the Bulls and played well, averaging 14.6 PPG and 8.2 RPG in 30 games for New Orleans. He is only under contract for one more season, but hopes to remain with the Pelicans long-term, per William Guillory of The Times-Picayune. “No doubt,” Mirotic said. “This has been like a family to me and I’m looking forward. This is the place I want to be.”
  • In their respective pressers, Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry and general manager Dell Demps both said they want to re-sign DeMarcus Cousins, who is recovering from a torn Achilles and will hit unrestricted free agency, tweets Scott Kushner of The Advocate. “In a perfect world we would like to have (Cousins) back,” Demps said.
  • Gentry’s option for 2018/19 was picked up by the Pelicans after the team defeated the Trail Blazers in the first round of the postseason. The head coach expressed his own desire to remain in New Orleans going forward, and advocated for new owner Gayle Benson, who took over after the death of her husband, Tom Benson. “Mrs. Benson is going to make this thing a success,” Gentry said (per Scott Kushner of The Advocate). “She’s 100% committed to doing everything we possibly can to making this a championship team. As long as that’s the case, I love being here.”

Pelicans Notes: Offseason, Rondo, Cousins, Okafor

While the Pelicans’ season came to an end on Tuesday night in Golden State, there’s reason for optimism in New Orleans going forward, writes Ron Higgins of The Times-Picayune. As Higgins details, head coach Alvin Gentry said after the game that he believes the Pelicans are “headed in the right direction as a franchise,” praising Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday as long-term anchors.

The 2017/18 season was also one of redemption for general manager Dell Demps, says Jeff Duncan of The Times-Picayune. Demps was believed to be on the hot seat a year ago, but kept his job and saw the roster he built blossom during the eighth year of his tenure in New Orleans.

Demps’ decision to sign Rajon Rondo to a one-year, $3.3MM deal last offseason was one of his best moves in recent memory, as Duncan notes. In Higgins’ view, re-signing Rondo to a new contract in the coming months should be at or near the top of Demps’ list of priorities. It’s imperative that the team bring back at least one – or both – of Rondo and DeMarcus Cousins in order to continue its uphill climb, Higgins contends.

Here’s more on the Pelicans as their offseason gets underway:

  • Asked after the game about whether he wants the Pelicans to re-sign Cousins, Gentry suggested it “goes without saying” that he’d want the big man back. “That’s something we’ll discuss,” Gentry said, per Ben Golliver of SI.com (video link). “The guy is averaging 26 points and 12 points, you’d like to have him on your team.”
  • The Cousins situation will be the biggest question for the Pelicans to answer this summer, ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) writes in his preview of the team’s offseason. As Marks outlines, letting Cousins walk wouldn’t open up cap space, and moving him in a sign-and-trade probably isn’t realistic, so the Pels should make a strong effort to re-sign him. However, New Orleans will also have to be careful not to overpay a player coming off a major Achilles injury, especially given the luxury-tax implications.
  • In his end-of-season look at New Orleans’ next moves, Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer suggests that a Cousins/Otto Porter trade would make sense for both the Pelicans and the Wizards. However, as Marks details in his article, a straight-up swap of the two wouldn’t work within CBA rules, so some maneuvering would be required.
  • Having returned to the NBA this season following a layoff of nearly five years, veteran center Emeka Okafor is eager to continue his career in 2018/19, per Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. “I want to play as long as I can,” Okafor said. “We’ll see with New Orleans. … It’s sports. You don’t know. I know my profession. I know anything can happen. But I am very happy to be here. I’m having a great time, and it feels like home.”

Southwest Notes: Cousins, Pelicans, Conley, Gay

The season-ending injury to DeMarcus Cousins hasn’t changed the Pelicans‘ plans to add talent by the February 8 trade deadline, according to Scott Kushner of The Advocate. The loss of Cousins, who was averaging 25.5 points and 12.9 rebounds per game, leaves a big hole in the lineup and New Orleans will be aggressive on the trade market to try to compensate for his absence.

The Pelicans, who hold a three-game lead over the ninth-place Clippers, don’t plan to change their approach on the court without Cousins. They will continue to push the pace and emphasize ball movement, with Anthony Davis sliding from power forward to center except in rare occasions when he is on the floor with Omer Asik.

“There’s a whole lot of season left,” Jrue Holiday said. “There’s still half the season left. So, people have to step up and we’ve got to come together even more.”

There’s more this morning from the Southwest Division:

  • The injury to Cousins may alter the Pelicans‘ future in several ways, Kushner writes in a separate story. The immediate and most obvious decision is whether to trade for another big man, with Enes Kanter, Brook Lopez and DeAndre Jordan among the possible names who might be available. The next choice is how to handle Cousins’ free agency this summer. Sources tell Kushner that New Orleans was planning to offer a max deal worth about $175MM over five years, but that’s far from certain now with Cousins projected to be sidelined for six to 10 months, then facing an uncertain future once he recovers. The injury may also affect the status of GM Dell Demps and coach Alvin Gentry, who were both on shaky ground coming into the season. They appeared to be safe with the Cousins-Davis tandem meshing well and the Pelicans on their way to a playoff appearance, but a late-season collapse could signal the end for both in New Orleans.
  • Grizzlies point Mike Conley, who will have season-ending heel surgery, had been considering the procedure for a long time before he and the team decided it was necessary about a week ago, relays Ronald Tillery of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. “He always knew he could have done this. He wanted to avoid it,” said his father and agent, Mike Conley Sr. “It wasn’t like he saw somebody and they said he needed to do it. He didn’t want to be out four or five months this season if he could avoid it. But he’ll be back at top shape in five months.”
  • The Spurs expect injured forward Rudy Gay to return after the All-Star break, according to Jabari Young of The San Antonio Express-News. Gay, who has missed the past 15 games with bursitis in his heel, was hoping to start playing again next week, but after consulting with doctors the decision was made to be cautious.

Pelicans Retaining Alvin Gentry, Dell Demps

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.

Pelicans Still Evaluating Gentry, Demps

Coach Alvin Gentry and GM Dell Demps remain on “day-to-day” status in New Orleans, and there’s not a set deadline for the organization to make a decision about their future, writes Scott Kushner for The Advocate.

The choice will be made by owner Tom Benson and senior VP of basketball operations Mickey Loomis, who are weighing a number of factors in deciding whether to keep both men. The Pelicans would seemingly want to have the issue addressed well before the June 22nd draft and the July 1st start of free agency, but Kushner notes that seven years ago, Demps was hired on July 20th.

Demps has held the job through three ownership groups, producing mixed results. Under his reign, the team has a 237-321 record with playoff appearances in 2011 and 2015. Demps drafted Anthony Davis in 2012 and got him to agree to an extension through 2021. He also swung a huge deal for DeMarcus Cousins at this year’s All-Star break, which may buy Demps some time in his position if the franchise waits to see how the Davis-Cousins pairing pans out.

“We certainly saw an uptick in the energy around the team since [Cousins] got here,” team president Dennis Lauscha said last month. “We’ve seen a big uptick in renewals, and we’ve seen an uptick in sponsorships already. Listen, he’s been great for the organization. He’s a great guy, and he’s already volunteered to do community stuff. We love having him as a part of our organization.”

However, Demps also has several prominent mistakes on his record, such as giving Omer Asik $58MM over five years in 2015 and giving up five of the team’s last six draft picks in deals for veterans.

Demps will also be evaluated on his decision to hire Gentry. The former Warriors assistant promised an up-tempo approach to better showcase Davis’ talents, but a two-year run of injuries has gotten in the way. With a 64-100 record in New Orleans, Gentry has one more guaranteed year on his contract, then a $4MM team option on the final season.
Loomis and Benson must decide whether they think the Demps-Gentry pairing will ever be successful and whether stability is more valuable than an immediate change would be. The organization could decide to keep both, fire both or just replace one, and the decision could be made at any time.

“I walk in here every day excited about my job,” Demps said after the season ended. “I don’t ever feel the pressure or anything like that. Right now, we’re in evaluation mode. We’re going to sit back and meet with Alvin. We’re going to sit back and go over the whole season. I think we’ve had a lot of challenges this year. But I do like the direction and path that we’re headed [on].”

Southwest Notes: Pelicans, Capela, Mavericks

The Pelicans will look to add outside shooting this offseason, John Reid of The Times-Picayune relays.

”We’re going to look at all options,” GM Dell Demps said. ”We’re going to be broad in our search to find the best possible outcome for the season. Obviously shooting, I think that’s the big importance. We have to be creative and you know putting the right mix around those guys is going to be important.”

Reid names J.J. Redick, Kyle Korver, Andre Iguodala and P.J. Tucker among the unrestricted free agents who could be a fit in New Orleans. It’s worth noting that Iguodala coming to Louisiana is unlikely, as the Warriors plan on keeping him in Golden State beyond this season.

Here’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Clint Capela is both a long-term project and a key piece to the Rockets‘ chances at success this postseason, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle writes. The center scored 14 points in Game 1 against the Thunder and protected the rim with great defense. The big man is eligible for rookie scale extension this offseason.
  • Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com believes the Mavericks will have trouble landing marquee free agents while Dirk Nowitzki is still on the team (h/t The Dallas Morning News). The analyst compares Nowitzki’s situation to Kobe Bryant‘s in that it’s hard to build a winning roster around an aging superstar who’s getting paid like a current one.