Pelicans Rumors

Demps Thanks Fans; Hall-Of-Famers Weigh In On AD Saga

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.

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.

  • 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.”

Pelicans May Re-Engage NBA On Davis Situation

With the Pelicans set to resume play this Friday in Indiana, it’s still not clear whether Anthony Davis will continue to take the court for the team going forward.

Davis has said he plans to play the rest of the season, and it appears the shoulder injury that knocked him out of last Thursday’s contest is minor, as he was able to play in the All-Star Game. However, there are reportedly members of the Pelicans’ organization who believe he has played his last game for the team — the club would prefer to sit him to minimize the risk of an injury that would adversely impact his trade value ahead of a crucial offseason.

In a column addressing the Davis situation, Marc Stein of The New York Times writes of “strong signals” that the Pelicans intend to re-engage the NBA this week to discuss the matter. The organization, which replaced general manager Dell Demps with interim GM Danny Ferry last week, hopes to convince league officials to reconsider their stance on forcing the Pelicans to play Davis, says Stein.

When the Pelicans initially mulled the possibility of sitting Davis following the trade deadline, the league reportedly reached out to remind them that teams are subject to fines of $100K for benching healthy players. New Orleans wouldn’t be the first club to sit a healthy veteran this season, but the NBA wants to make a distinction between a difference maker like AD and lesser players like J.R. Smith and Enes Kanter.

In Stein’s view, the league’s stance that the Pelicans would be hurting the ticket-buying public by holding Davis out of action rings hollow, since fans in New Orleans recognize that the All-Star big man no longer wants to be there. Forcing the Pelicans to play him against their will is making an uncomfortable situation even more toxic, Stein argues.

With 23 games left on the Pelicans’ schedule, this will be a situation worth keeping a close eye on the rest of the way. If the club eventually decides to sit Davis – with or without the NBA’s approval – the players’ union may get involved, which would make things even messier. But if the Pelicans hope to maximize their return for Davis in an offseason trade, the drama may be worth it.

Pelicans Notes: Davis, GM Search, Gentry, Holiday

Shortly after the Pelicans dismissed general manager Dell Demps on Friday, Sam Amick of The Athletic cited sources who said there was no plan in place for how to handle the Anthony Davis situation after the All-Star break. On Sunday night, a tweet from Scott Kushner of The Advocate suggested that there’s still no resolution.

According to Kushner, there are people within the Pelicans’ organization who believe that Davis has played his last game for the team. However, the big man played in the All-Star Game on Sunday and his shoulder injury isn’t expected to sideline him going forward. He has also made it clear he wants to play down the stretch.

[RELATED: Anthony Davis plans to play rest of season, confirms teams on trade list]

With the NBA not stepping in to clarify its position on the issue, it’s not clear what the tipping point will be, according to Kushner, who predicts that the situation will continue to be a “weird” one going forward.

Here’s more on the Pelicans:

  • The Pelicans, who reportedly plan to target high-level executives for their GM opening, are expected to hire a search firm to vet outside candidates, per Amick.
  • In a column for The Advocate, Kushner argues that the Pelicans’ next general manager should learn from Demps’ mistakes — namely, Demps’ strategy of trading first-round picks for “young veterans” backfired, since New Orleans’ rosters during the last several years typically lacked depth and were short on affordable rookie contracts.
  • While the Davis saga has been a mess for the franchise, head coach Alvin Gentry and star guard Jrue Holiday have emerged as “sympathetic, admirable figures,” Kushner writes in a separate piece for The Advocate. According to Kushner, “Gentry and Holiday are the stewards who should be remembered for carrying a wounded franchise across a period of dread with dignity and pride.”

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.

Anthony Davis Plans To Play Rest Of Season, Confirms Trade List

Anthony Davis confirmed today that he intends to play in Sunday’s All-Star game and the remainder of the season, and also confirmed the list of his preferred trade destinations during media availability with reporters Saturday in Charlotte.

The Pelicans’ All-Star suffered a left shoulder muscle contusion on Thursday in a collision with Thunder center Nerlens Noel. After he requested a trade from New Orleans but was not dealt ahead of the February 7 deadline, Davis’ future for the rest of the season became unclear.

Not only does Davis intend to play in the All-Star game, but the six-time All-Star confirmed he plans to suit up the remainder of the season. The Pelicans face potential fines from the league if they elect to sit a healthy Davis for the rest of the season.

In 45 games this season, Davis has averaged 28.1 PPG, 12.9 RPG and 4.2 APG for the Pelicans. Before Thursday’s injury, New Orleans reportedly planned to play Davis but reduce his workload and sit him in the back end of back-to-back games.

The 25-year-old also spoke candidly on his trade request and his possible destination. Davis confirmed his reported list of four preferred teams in a trade ahead of the deadline, which includes the Lakers, Clippers, Bucks and Knicks.

“Whatever list that came out that’s between the Pelicans and my agent,” Davis said, per Sean Deveney of Sporting News. “But it’s true.”

The Lakers were the most aggressive team pursuing the big man but failed to agree on a trade. Davis also called the Knicks a “great franchise” during his media session, before mentioning a possible fifth destination: the Celtics.

“They are on my list,” Davis said of the Celtics (via Sporting News’ Sean Deveney). “….I never said they weren’t on my list.”

Boston was unable to acquire Davis this season without including Kyrie Irving in a proposed deal due to Rose Rule restrictions. However, with Irving hitting unrestricted free agency this summer, Boston would no longer be hindered by that rule and could potentially pair him along with Davis.

As we relayed, the Celtics are reportedly prepared to offer an “explosive” package for Davis. A potential Boston trade could include any combination of Jayson TatumJaylen BrownMarcus Smart, and a slew of future first-round picks, including selections from the Kings, Clippers, and Grizzlies.

In a later interview with NBA TV, Davis claimed he never gave a preferred destination and is merely seeking an opportunity to win.

“All 29 other teams are on my list,” Davis said. “I don’t have a preferred destination, I just want to win. Big market, small market [teams] — I don’t care, I want to win. Obviously, whatever team I get traded to, play for it that year or whatever…Then, when free agency comes, we’ll see what happens.”

Community Shootaround: Anthony Davis Situation

The Pelicans have had a busy day, cutting ties with GM Dell Demps and naming Danny Ferry as the interim replacement. Whether that has any impact on what the franchise will do with Anthony Davis the rest of the season remains to be seen.

New Orleans wants to get a maximum return on Davis this offseason and won’t necessarily limit itself to one of his preferred destinations. The efforts of agent Rich Paul to force the Pelicans’ hand before the trade deadline backfired, as the front office refused to buckle and work out a deal with the Lakers.

However, the next two months will be tricky. Davis has been booed in his home arena and is now obviously in an awkward spot when he takes the court. So are coach Alvin Gentry and New Orleans’ remaining front office executives, who must decide how much to use the franchise player. The Pelicans risk league discipline if they choose to sit Davis when he’s healthy. Davis suffered in a shoulder contusion against Oklahoma City on Thursday, but the injury is a minor one.

It would seem to be in the Pelicans’ best interest to play Davis as little as possible, not only decreasing the chances of major injury but also improving their chances of winning the draft lottery. However, it would also be unfair to fans who paid full price to see Davis play not get their money’s worth.

That leads us to our question of the day: Should the Pelicans continue to play Anthony Davis the rest of the season or should they try to shut him down and risk league penalties? If they decide to play him, should they limit his minutes or use him as they did before his trade demand?

Please take to the comments section to weigh in on this topic. We look forward to your input.

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 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.