Dell Demps

Lakers Notes: Pelinka, Johnson, Demps, Russell

Lakers GM Rob Pelinka said Magic Johnson‘s blistering comments about him were “surprising” and “disheartening,” Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times tweets. Johnson, who resigned as president of basketball operations shortly before the season ended, accused Pelinka on ESPN’s First Take of “backstabbing” him for telling people around the league he wasn’t working hard enough. Pelinka responded to the accusation during coach Frank Vogel‘s introductory press conference.

“They’re just simply not true,” Pelinka said. “I stand beside him. I stand with him as a colleague and a partner. I’ve always supported everything he’s done and will continue to.”

According to an ESPN report, Pelinka spoke to Johnson two days ago regarding the team landing the fourth pick in the draft lottery.

We have more on the Lakers:

  • Pelinka confirmed that the organization will not hire a president of basketball operations to replace Johnson, according to a post from ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk. Pelinka revealed that, in terms of decision-making, he consults with the basketball staff as well as senior adviser Kurt Rambis and then makes suggestions to owner Jeanie Buss.
  • Pelinka vows that the turmoil surrounding the organization won’t prevent it from building a championship team as soon as next season, ESPN’s Dave McMenanim writes. “I think if people take a look at where this franchise is right now, again we have a great coach, we have a high draft pick. We have a great young core, maybe one of the best in the league. We have a superstar on our team, and an open slot,” he said. “So I think people can look at this as an opportunity to win a championship possibly next year.”
  • Johnson blamed former Pelicans GM Dell Demps in the ESPN interview for leaking trade offers involving Anthony Davis prior to the trade deadline, Dan Feldman of NBC Sports relays. “I told Dell Demps, ‘Let’s just do it in private. What we offer, let’s keep it between us.’ Well, Dell didn’t do that. So, that’s how it got out,” Johnson said.
  • Johnson also said during the First Take interview that his decision to trade D’Angelo Russell to the Nets was directly related to the issues he had with former Lakers guard Nick Young, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News writes. Russell pranked Young by goading his teammate into admitting that he cheated on his former fiancé, recording star Iggy Azalea. Russell posted the recording on his private Snapchat account but it became public.

Pelicans Notes: Zion, Culver, Davis

Those concerned about Zion Williamson‘s game being dependent on his athleticism are overthinking the evaluation process.

“So (Williamson) is 18 now,” a non-Pelicans executive explains to Sam Vecenie of The Athletic. “He’ll play his first NBA season at 19. He’ll be 23 when his second contract starts. Even if we get him for eight seasons and that takes us all the way through his team-controlled years, that only gets us through his age-26 season. And if he ends up being good enough to be with us for eight years as a No. 1 overall pick, we probably won’t complain because he’ll have been a good player. I don’t think we should worry about his athleticism falling off by then unless he gets hurt.”

A few of the front office analytic executives who spoke with Vecenie told him that Williamson’s projection is actually more favorable than Anthony Davis‘ was coming out of college. Opinions throughout the league are split. Some executives believe Davis was the better prospect while others feel it’s extremely close.

The Pelicans are selecting Williamson after winning the draft lottery, barring an upset of massive proportions. Let’s take a look at more notes from New Orleans:

  • The Pelicans met with Jarrett Culver (Texas Tech) at the draft combine in Chicago, NBA writer Jim Eichenhofer tweets. “You never know what could happen. Anything could happen. You just have to be ready,” Culver said. New Orleans could be looking at a second top-5 selection if they trade Davis to the Knicks or Lakers.
  • Pelicans owner Gayle Benson called Davis’ trade request “disappointing” during a commencement speech she made for Loyola University. Benson referred to the team’s on-court performance as “frustrating” and said that the franchise has “not adapted to the reality of today’s NBA,” as Christopher Dabe of The Time-Picayune passes along.
  • The Pelicans hired David Griffin to lead a more analytical approach in the front office. It wasn’t easy for ownership to dismiss former GM Dell Demps, as Dabe relays in the same piece. “I must be honest with myself in making painful decisions because my ultimate responsibility is to the fans,” Benson said.

Southwest Notes: Demps, Rockets, Spurs

After being let go by the Pelicans last week, longtime general manager Dell Demps published a letter today thanking fans in New Orleans for supporting the franchise during his time as GM, as The Advocate relays.

“Pelican Fans, I will always remember the buzz in the arena during the playoffs when everyone wore red shirts and your passion inspired our team to victory,” Demps’ statement reads, in part. “Through the highs and the lows, your love for the team did not go unnoticed.”

With Demps no longer in New Orleans, it will fall on interim Pelicans GM Danny Ferry to navigate the waters of the Anthony Davis saga for now, as we detailed earlier today.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press spoke to former NBA stars who asked for trades during their careers, such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Rick Barry, to get their thoughts on the Davis saga. Barry, for one, doesn’t like the fact that the Pelicans‘ star made his request during the season and did it so publicly. “I just think it’s a situation where they needed to keep it in house,” he said. “Just talk to the owners. Talk amongst yourselves. Airing your dirty laundry and putting stuff out there … I just don’t understand why you want to get into a situation like that that does nobody any good and can only cause problems.”
  • In his latest mailbag, Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle checks in on Danuel House, the Rockets‘ most pressing needs, and how the team plans to fill its open roster spots.
  • LaMarcus Aldridge (33 years old) and DeMar DeRozan (29) aren’t exactly young in NBA terms, but the Spurs‘ stars believe time is still on their side and that they’re capable of leading the club for years to come, writes Mike Finger of The San Antonio Express-News.

Pelicans Notes: Davis, Demps, Benson, Okafor

Despite Anthony Davis not wanting to be the bad guy, his botched trade request in New Orleans has left him with no other choice, Michael Lee of The Athletic writes.

Davis made his request last month through agent Rich Paul, who took the request to various media outlets and publicized his client’s wish. Davis confirmed his list of preferred trade destinations over All-Star Weekend: The Bucks, Celtics, Clippers, Knicks and Lakers.

“When you’re somewhere for seven years, of course it’s tough but, I don’t know how long I’m going to play this game,” Davis said, according to Lee. “I want to make sure I have a chance to win. I want to win. Like I said, no matter where it is. I have no preferred destination. But I want to play the game of basketball and I want to win. I just felt like it was time for me to move forward, try to take control of my career and go out there and try to win.

“Market doesn’t matter to me. I just want to win,” Davis said. “Big market, small market, that doesn’t matter. I’m focused on winning at this point in my career, wherever that may be. It could be a big market or a small market, I just want to win.”

Davis will have to finish out the 2018/19 season in New Orleans despite seeking a trade. The Pelicans failed to move him before the Feb. 7 trading deadline, meaning the earliest they can open new trade discussions is when season comes to an end.

Davis has mostly received boos from Pelicans fans in pregame intros, and the reaction from the fan base on social media has been mixed.

There’s more out of New Orleans today:

  • The Pelicans made the right decision by parting ways with general manager Dell Demps last week, Ben Golliver of The Washington Post opines. Demps, who served as New Orleans’ GM for nine seasons, failed to effectively build a winning roster around Davis since drafting him back in 2012. Pelicans owner Gayle Benson said the team will immediately begin the process of restructuring its basketball operations department, which will include a comprehensive and confidential search of a new leader that reports to Benson.
  • Benson’s next major decision will either break or make the Pelicans, Larry Holder of The Athletic writes. New Orleans has to decide whether to trade Davis this offseason, or try to persuade him into staying with their younger group. “I think they’re young, and we’re going to invest more money and get the big players and do everything we can to keep Anthony here,” Benson said. “I really like what we have in place. I really like Anthony, but if he wants to leave, you can’t hold him back.”
  • William Guillory of The Athletic hosted a Q&A with Jahlil Okafor, who’s having a bounce-back season with the Pelicans through 38 games. Okafor discussed his mentality this season, playing with Davis, how he’s improved as a player and much more in the story.

Dell Demps’ Firing Bad News For Knicks?

The ouster of Pelicans GM Dell Demps could complicate the Knicks‘ hopes of landing Anthony Davis in a trade this summer, writes Frank Isola of The Athletic.

Knicks president Steve Mills had informal talks with Demps last month about a deal involving Davis and Kristaps Porzingis, according to Isola. Porzingis was since shipped to the Mavericks in a trade that enabled New York to open two max salary slots for free agency.

A source tells Isola that Demps wanted to wait until after the draft lottery before resuming talks so he would know where New York would be picking. Second in the league in our current Reverse Standings, the Knicks have a 14% chance of winning the lottery and getting a shot at Duke standout Zion Williamson, whom Demps was intrigued by. Demps also has a prior connection with New York, having served as a scout for the organization.

The team has a much different relationship with former Cavaliers GM David Griffin, who is considered one of the potential front-runners to replace Demps in New Orleans. Another source tells Isola that Griffin was considering an offer to become GM of the Knicks two years ago, but turned it down when he discovered he wouldn’t be solely in charge of personnel decisions. While Griffin was negotiating with New York, Mills signed Tim Hardaway Jr. to a long-term contract.

Another top contender for the Pelicans post, Celtics assistant GM Michael Zarren, presents an even worse scenario for the Knicks and Lakers, Isola adds. Zarren is considered “the right-hand man” to Boston GM Danny Ainge and has a strong familiarity with the young players who would be key to any deal with the Celtics.

Danny Ferry Named Pelicans’ Interim GM

Veteran NBA executive Danny Ferry is taking over as the Pelicans‘ general manager on an interim basis, league sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). The team has confirmed the move in an official announcement. The press release also confirms that New Orleans has parted ways with longtime GM Dell Demps, which was reported earlier today.

“We will immediately begin the process of restructuring our basketball operations department,” team owner Gayle Benson said in a statement. “This will include a comprehensive, but confidential, search aided by outside consultants to identify a new leader of our basketball operations, directly reporting to me.”

A former general manager in Cleveland and Atlanta, Ferry did excellent work reshaping the Hawks’ roster, but saw his time with the team come to an end after he read an offensive comment from a scouting report on Luol Deng out loud during a conference call. Ferry subsequently took a leave of absence from the Hawks and eventually reached a buyout agreement with the club.

In recent years, Ferry has served as a special advisor to the general manager in New Orleans.

The Pelicans are expected to aggressively pursue a high-level executive to be the club’s next head of basketball operations, with former Cavaliers GM David Griffin and current Celtics assistant GM Mike Zarren among the candidates already mentioned. New Orleans’ search figures to take some time though, opening the door for an in-house exec like Ferry to take the reins for the time being.

Fletcher Mackel of WDSU in New Orleans (Twitter links) hears that Joe Dumars, who has long been linked to the Pelicans, isn’t expected to be a target for the permanent GM job. However, Mackel suggests that Ed Stefanski, who is currently the head of basketball operations for the Pistons, may be a candidate.

Mackel adds (via Twitter) that president Mickey Loomis, who is primarily a football executive for the Saints, will continue to have oversight within the NBA franchise, but is expected to take a step back and focus nearly exclusively on football. That lines up with Benson’s statement, which suggests that the basketball operations department will be reworked and that the new GM will report directly to her.

Pelicans Rumors: Griffin, Front Office, Davis

Former Cavaliers general manager David Griffin is among the possible preliminary candidates to replace Dell Demps as the Pelicans‘ GM, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Celtics assistant GM Mike Zarren may also be a target for New Orleans, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times.

Team owner Gayle Benson, who wants to find a pathway to sustainable success in a small market, intends to be aggressive in pursuing the “best available candidates” to run the club’s basketball operations, according to Wojnarowski.

[RELATED: Pelicans parting ways with GM Dell Demps]

Elsewhere in his full report on Demps’ dismissal, Wojnarowski relays that Benson is looking to take back control of the Pelicans from the “outside forces” she believes have tried to push the franchise in a direction that isn’t in the club’s best interests.

While Woj doesn’t get into specifics, it seems safe to assume that’s a reference to the efforts Anthony Davis‘ camp made to get him moved to the Lakers prior to the trade deadline.

Here’s more on the Pelicans and their front office shakeup:

  • The determination to fire Demps was made by Benson, making it the first major decision of her tenure as Pelicans owner, tweets Jeff Duncan of The Times-Picayune.
  • The Pelicans have known for weeks that Demps would likely need to be replaced, according to Scott Kushner of The Advocate, who says (via Twitter) that the club had initially hoped to wait until the end of the season to finalize its decision.
  • Kushner also suggests (via Twitter) that today’s move makes it clear that the Lakers/Davis saga leading up to the deadline was controlled by team ownership rather than Demps, since the club wouldn’t have let him make the final call on a decision of that magnitude if he was about to be fired.
  • Prior to Demps’ dismissal, Chris Mannix of SI.com dropped an interesting tidbit in a story about Davis and the Pelicans, citing sources who said that New Orleans may have been more open to dealing with the Lakers at the deadline if Davis’ trade request had been “handled quietly.”
  • Jordan Greer of Sporting News argues that – after Davis’ latest injury and Demps’ firing – the time is right for the Pelicans to sit AD for the rest of the season.

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.

Trade Rumors: Davis, Randolph, Wolves, Morris

The Knicks and Lakers are equal on Anthony Davis‘ list of preferred destinations, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times. The Clippers and Bucks also remain in the top four, Stein adds. New York may make a bid for Davis before the deadline, but it should be in a stronger position after the draft lottery when everyone knows where its first-rounder will fall (Twitter link).

League sources tell Stein that Davis doesn’t expect to sign his next contract before he reaches free agency in 2020, no matter where he is by then (Twitter link). That means anyone who trades for Davis won’t be assured of a long-term extension.

He has been sidelined with a fractured left index finger, but Davis intends to resume playing regardless of what happens at the trade deadline (Twitter link). He has received medical clearance to return to action, but the Pelicans haven’t divulged their plans for Davis if there’s no trade on Thursday. He was held out of two games this week to avoid further injury.

Here’s a roundup of rumors heading into the trade deadline:

  • The Lakers are running out of hope that a Davis trade will be completed before the deadline, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Pelicans GM Dell Demps hasn’t responded to Magic Johnson’s latest offer, and it appears New Orleans is content to run out the clock. The Pelicans may never have been serious about dealing with L.A. and might have been trying to sabotage the Lakers as revenge for what they consider to be tampering, tweets Rachel Nichols, host of ESPN’s “The Jump.” “It’s not just possible, it’s what happened,” colleague Brian Windhorst said today in an appearance on the show.
  • The Mavericks will have buyout talks with newly acquired Zach Randolph, Wojnarowski tweets. The 37-year-old hasn’t played yet this season, but he may be able to help a contender.
  • The Timberwolves continue to look for someone to take Jeff Teague and Gorgui Dieng, sources tell Chris Hine of The Star-Tribune. Teague has a $19MM player option for next season, while Dieng still has two seasons left on his four-year, $63MM deal. Minnesota hasn’t found much interest, but it may be willing to attach Derrick Rose, Taj Gibson, Anthony Tolliver or Luol Deng as incentives.
  • New Pelican Markieff Morris could become a buyout candidate once he’s fully recovered from a neck injury, tweets Tim Bontemps of ESPN.
  • The Thunder plan to watch what the Suns do with Wayne Ellington and may be interested if he hits the buyout market, according to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News (Twitter link).

Pelicans Leaning Toward Keeping Davis Past Deadline

The Lakers are fighting an uphill battle to finalize a deal for Anthony Davis before the trade deadline, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports. There’s significant support within the Pelicans organization to retain Davis for the remainder of the season and revisit trade talks during the offseason, when several new and different scenarios would be available to them, Wojnarowski adds.

The Lakers are growing increasingly pessimistic the Pelicans will make a deal with them, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN tweets.

The Lakers upped the ante on Monday in their zeal to acquire Davis, who can become a free agent in the summer of 2020. They are presently offering the Pelicans a package built around three young starters — Brandon IngramKyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball— and two first-round picks. They’re also willing to take on Solomon Hill‘s contract, which runs through next season.

Los Angeles president Magic Johnson had multiple phone conversations with New Orleans GM Dell Demps on Monday. Davis expanded his list of teams that he’d consider signing with in the long term besides the Lakers, including the Bucks, Clippers and Knicks.  But the Clippers and Bucks have yet to make offers for Davis and the Knicks haven’t contacted Demps since trading Kristaps Porzingis to Dallas, league sources told Wojnarowski.

The Celtics remain anxious to trade for Davis during the offseason and pair him with Kyrie Irving, though their plan to pursue Davis remains unaffected by whatever Irving might do in free agency. The Celtics remain confident they’ll re-sign Irving, Wojnarowski adds.

New Orleans is hopeful the Celtics might include their top young player, Jayson Tatum, along with a package of first-round picks. By waiting past the deadline, the Pelicans would also have a better idea what type of first-round picks the Celtics could convey to them.