Mickey Loomis

Gayle Benson Vows To Remain Pelicans’ Owner

Gayle Benson, the widow of long-time Pelicans owner Tom Benson, vowed on Monday that she’ll retain ownership in the franchise, according to a New Orleans Advocate report.

Gayle Benson’s commitment to the franchise had been in doubt, particularly after superstar Anthony Davis made his trade demand this winter. Benson, who also controls ownership of the Saints, made her intentions clear at an NFL owners meeting.

“There is no way I’m going to sell that team (the Pelicans) ever,” Benson said.

The Pelicans are valued at $1.2 billion, according to Forbes’ most recent rankings, which is second-to-last in the league ahead of only the Grizzlies, the report notes. Their lease at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans runs through 2024.

We have more on Benson’s plans for the franchise:

  • Saints GM Mickey Loomis will focus exclusively on the football team going forward, Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune tweets.  He previously had oversight duties for both teams. Danny Ferry has been running the front office as the interim GM since Benson fired Dell Demps shortly after the February trade deadline. The new GM will oversee basketball operations and report directly to Benson, Duncan adds.
  • The outside consultant being used to conduct the GM search has recommended five or six candidates for the position, Duncan reports in another tweet. Benson and team president Dennis Lauscha will make the hire with Loomis also providing his input, Duncan adds.
  • Benson said there are no plans to relocate the Pelicans. Their lease at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans runs through 2024. “People are going to talk and there’s really nothing you can do about that,” Benson said, per Duncan. “Time will take care of it. They’ll see that I’m sincere and I’m not going anywhere.”

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.

Latest On Anthony Davis

Some members of the Pelicans organization want to get the Anthony Davis trade done today to eliminate the public relations distraction, but those feelings don’t go all the way to the top, according to Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter link). The NFL’s Saints remain the priority for owner Gayle Benson and VP Mickey Loomis, who aren’t bothered by the Davis situation.

There’s more news about the top name on the trade market:

  • The Lakers’ last offer to the Pelicans involved Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Ivica Zubac, Josh Hart and a pair of first-round picks, tweets John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7. He suggests the Celtics are prepared to offer Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart, Robert Williams, Al Horford (assuming he opts in) and possibly three first-round picks this summer.
  • Davis will pressure the Pelicans to start playing him if he’s not dealt before the deadline, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin (Twitter link). “Every game,” a source said. Davis has been sidelined with a fractured left index finger, but recently received medical clearance.
  • Gambadoro expects Davis to be in the lineup for tomorrow’s game against Minnesota (Twitter link).

Southwest Notes: Pelicans, Zagorac, Noel, Smith Jr.

Pelicans executive VP of basketball operations Mickey Loomis says the team is “due” for success and Rajon Rondo will provide veteran leadership, as he told New Orleans Times-Picayune columnists Jeff Duncan and Larry Holder during a radio interview. Loomis affirmed that the team was at a crossroads in terms of its development after trading for DeMarcus Cousins last season, retaining free agent point guard Jrue Holiday and reaching an agreement with Rondo. “I think we’re due and it’s time to have some success,” he said in the interview. “I think we’re all expecting that.” Though Rondo has yet to officially signed with New Orleans, Loomis said Rondo’s experience made him a good fit. “We’re talking about a veteran player that has some leadership qualities that’s been on winning teams, that understands how to win in the NBA,” Loomis said.

In other news around the Southwest Division:

  • Rade Zagorac‘s contract with the Grizzlies is a three-year, $3.9MM deal, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. The first two years and $2.3MM is guaranteed, he adds. Zagorac, the 35th overall selection in the 2016 draft, played overseas last season. The swingman was the leading scorer for KK Mega Leks in Serbia in 2016/17.
  • The Mavs will continue to play hardball with restricted free agent Nerlens Noel now that his other options have fallen by the wayside, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News opines. Noel is one of the few high-level free agents who hasn’t already signed a contract this month. Sefko doubts that Noel will take the qualifying offer of $4,187,598 and become an unrestricted free agent next summer, speculating that the two parties will eventually come to an agreement.
  • Mavs first-rounder Dennis Smith Jr.has made a strong impression on some scouts with his summer-league performances, according to Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report. The point guard averaged 16.2 PPG, 5.2 RPG and 3.8 APG in his first five summer-league outings.  “(Smith Jr.) has a solid feel as a young point guard,” one scout told Wasserman. Wasserman quotes eight scouts, who break down the pros and cons of Smith Jr.’s game.

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: Loomis, Anthony, Gordon

Mickey Loomis, the executive vice president of the Pelicans, said his role on the team is “overblown,” as Mike Triplett of ESPN.com relays (ESPN now link). Loomis said that GM Dell Demps and coach Alvin Gentry handle the day-to-day while he simply oversees things as an advisor to owner Tom Benson. Loomis, who is also the Saints GM, added that he focuses most of his attention on the NFL team and admitted that he misses some of the Pelicans games to take care of NFL matters.

Here’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Joel Anthony was the first player the Spurs considered adding when they went looking for a big man off the bench, Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News writes. “Joel’s a really intelligent young man who knows exactly what his role is and performs it well,” coach Gregg Popovich said. “He’s a real pro, and the guys respect him.”
  • Jabari Young of Spurs Nation (video link) believes the signing of Anthony, who’s on a 10-day contract, was a good move for the SpursPau Gasol remains sidelined with a broken finger, which could potentially allow Anthony to see some playing time with the team and receive another 10-day deal once his current one expires.
  • Free agent additions Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson are thriving with the Rockets, Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated writes. Both players credit Houston’s strength and conditioning program for helping them achieve success. “We’ll lift weights, I mean heavy after a game,” Gordon said. “No matter overtime, double-overtime, we’re in that weight room right after every game.”
  • The Pelicans are making a run at the eighth seed in the Western Conference, but Jeff Duncan of The Times-Picayune wonders if pursuing a match with the Warriors is the best move for the franchise. Duncan argues that the team should tank and land one of the nation’s elite prospects instead of taking an improbable chance at knocking off the league’s best team.

Bucks Talk With Pelicans About Monroe, Eye Teague

WEDNESDAY, 10:43am: Teams that have called the Bucks about Monroe aren’t gaining traction in talks, according to USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt, who heard from one source who said no chance exists that the big man will end up in a trade. At least one other source also told Zillgitt that Monroe won’t be traded.

5:08pm: New Orleans and Milwaukee have had only exploratory talks, sources tell John Reid of The Times Picayune, who nonetheless hears from league sources that Monroe, a New Orleans native, would prefer to play for his hometown Pelicans.

TUESDAY, 8:58am: The Bucks have had a dialogue with the Pelicans about Greg Monroe and are one of a handful of teams that have been “kicking the tires on” Hawks point guard Jeff Teague, reports Zach Lowe of ESPN.com. Monroe is obtainable if a team gives Milwaukee a “decent” first-round pick, according to Lowe, but the Pelicans have been reluctant to part with their 2016 first-rounder even if protection for the top few picks is involved, sources tell Lowe. New Orleans has dealt its first-round pick three years in a row.

New Orleans is keen on pairing Anthony Davis with a “bruiser” up front, but opposing teams are confused about whether whether executive vice president of basketball operations Mickey Loomis or GM Dell Demps has control over the front office, Lowe hears. Loomis has been exerting greater control lately, but executives from other teams told Ken Berger of CBSSports.com recently that they believe that’s only a temporary situation, with former Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars a strong candidate to take over the Pelicans front office.
A confused narrative exists about whether the Bucks would give up Monroe. Fellow ESPN scribes Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst reported Monday that the offseason signee wasn’t available, conflicting with an initial report from Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times that he could be had for the right offer. Both reports agreed that the team was open to dealing Michael Carter-Williams, and the team is unconvinced that he’s the long-term answer at point guard, league sources tell Lowe. Thus, Milwaukee joins a group of suitors for Teague that various reports say includes the Jazz, Knicks, Pacers, CelticsSixers and Magic. I touched on what then only appeared to be speculation about Milwaukee and Teague as I examined the point guard’s trade candidacy last month.

Latest On Pelicans Front Office

An increasing volume of chatter indicates that it’s “only a matter of time” before the Pelicans hire former Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars to run their front office, writes Ken Berger of CBSSports.com. Executive vice president of basketball operations Mickey Loomis, who also oversees the NFL’s Saints, has exerted greater control of the team lately in his role, which puts him above GM Dell Demps, but rival executives say that’s only temporary, with one exec calling him a football guy, not a basketball guy, according to Berger.

Dumars, a Louisiana native, has a close relationship with Pelicans owner Tom Benson, Berger notes. Loomis and other Pelicans officials reportedly met multiple times with Dumars in the fall of 2014, though the team said in May that it hadn’t had talks with Dumars about any potential job. Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders wrote shortly thereafter that people around the league had believed for a while that Dumars would eventually replace Loomis atop the Pelicans basketball hierarchy, and Zach Lowe of ESPN.com wrote in early May that Dumars was in play for a role that would place him above Demps in the organization. Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher said a year ago that Benson was eyeing Dumars as a possible future hire. Demps said this spring, on the day that the team fired coach Monty Williams, that Loomis had told him the rumors about Dumars were untrue.

The Pelicans are enduring a nightmare season after a rash of October injuries laid waste to many of new coach Alvin Gentry‘s plans. New Orleans is 11-25, though the team appears to be resisting the notion of trading soon-to-be free agent Ryan Anderson, despite reports of talks with the Suns that involved Anderson and Markieff Morris. The Pelicans, who have an open roster spot, reportedly expressed interest in trading for Solomon Hill, though that was more than a month ago. The team has since traded Ish Smith to the Sixers for a pair of second-round picks.

Dumars had high-profile hits and misses in his nearly 14-year tenure in charge of the Pistons, constructing the 2004 NBA champions and drafting Darko Milicic. He stepped down from atop the team’s front office in April 2014.

To find out more about Loomis and his future with the Saints, check out the rumors pages dedicated to Loomis and the Saints on our sister site, Pro Football Rumors, and follow @pfrumors on Twitter.

Pelicans Interview Alvin Gentry, JVG

MAY 29TH, 7:30pm: Gentry was in New Orleans today for a second interview with the team, Fletcher Mackel of WDSU NBC New Orleans tweets. Van Gundy is also still in contention for the job, Mackel adds.

MAY 22ND, 6:04pm: The Pelicans interviewed Van Gundy on Tuesday, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports. The two sides had previously spoken over the phone, but this was the first face-to-face meeting, Wojnarowski’s sources relayed.

10:16pm: Van Gundy has expressed interest in coaching the Pelicans, Marc Stein of ESPN.com tweets.

MAY 21ST, 12:50pm: Gentry sees the chance to coach Davis as career-defining and is “more than interested” in the job, a source close to Gentry told John Reid of The Times-Picayune. The source pointed to clear indications that Gentry will meet again with Pelicans management after the season is over for the Warriors, Reid adds. New Orleans wants a coach who’ll install an exciting, up-tempo attack while further developing Davis, Reid hears from league sources, and Gentry’s last NBA head coaching gig came with the fast-paced Steve Nash-era Suns.

8:34pm: Gentry is being interviewed by Pelicans president Mickey Loomis and GM Dell Demps tonight in San Francisco, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Gentry, who was granted permission by the Warriors to interview in between playoff series, will try to sell the Pelicans’ brass on offensive strategies that he would institute to expand Anthony Davis‘ game, Wojnarowski continues. Loomis is also interested in Thibodeau, who is waiting to hear from the Bulls about his future with the franchise, but Demps isn’t as sold on the hard-edged Chicago coach after having endured much internal conflict with former coach Monty Williams, Wojnarowski hears. The Pelicans have also made calls on Jeff Van Gundy and have an interest in Scott Brooks, Wojnarowski adds.

5:11pm: There was a lot of talk at the combine that the Pelicans would be hesitant to give up compensation to Chicago in return for the Bulls allowing them to hire Thibodeau, Johnson reports (Twitter link). That doesn’t mean the team will necessarily hire Gentry instead, but it supports the idea that the Pelicans will wait to see how things shake out between the Bulls and Thibs, Johnson tweets.

4:40pm: The Bulls and Thibodeau are still operating as though Thibs remains Chicago’s coach, Stein writes in a full story. Stein still says the sides are widely expected to part ways. It’s unclear just when Gentry’s interview with the Pelicans will take place, Stein notes.

MAY 18TH, 4:15pm: The Pelicans have received permission from the Warriors to interview assistant coach Alvin Gentry, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Most of the reports regarding the New Orleans vacancy have centered on Tom Thibodeau, so it appears the Pels are expanding their base of candidates. Gentry is reportedly a front-runner for Chicago should the Bulls part ways with Thibodeau, so perhaps the Pelicans’ interest in Gentry is brinksmanship of sorts to entice the Bulls to let Thibs go for minimal compensation, though that’s just my speculation.

Gentry has reportedly drawn interest from the Nuggets and Magic, too, as he helps head coach Steve Kerr guide the Warriors toward a title. The sought-after candidate has made it clear he enjoys coaching in Golden State even though he’d like to return to a head coaching capacity. Gentry is a veteran of parts of 12 seasons as an NBA head coach with the Heat, Pistons, Clippers and Suns. He took Phoenix, where he made his last head coaching stop, to the Western Conference Finals in 2009. Gentry left a job as an assistant for the New Orleans franchise, then known as the Hornets, after one season in 2004 to join Mike D’Antoni‘s staff with the Suns, as Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic points out (on Twitter).

New Orleans was reportedly waiting for clarity on Thibodeau’s situation with the Bulls as of last week. There’s apparent mutual interest between Thibs and the Pelicans, and a pair of reports Friday indicated that if he’s not coaching in Chicago, he’ll most likely end up on the Pelicans bench. However, his contract with the Bulls runs through 2016/17, so Chicago controls his fate if he wants to coach in the NBA anytime soon. Thibodeau isn’t about to walk away from the money remaining on his deal, according to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link), an amount Stein last week pegged at close to $9MM. Still, Johnson suggests it’s possible that Thibodeau will sit out next season if the Bulls indeed decide to go with someone else.

Pelicans Rumors: Calipari, Cole, Williams

A potential Pelicans coaching candidate appears close to coming off the market, as John Calipari is nearing a deal on extension that would tack an extra season worth $8MM onto his deal with the University of Kentucky, reports Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News. The amended contract would run through 2021/22, according tp DeCourcy. Calipari received a similar extension last year, though that didn’t stop NBA rumors. In any case, here’s more on the latest NBA team with a coaching vacancy:

  • The Cavs sought to trade for Norris Cole when he was on the Heat prior to the deadline before the Pelicans were instead able to wrangle the point guard from Miami, as Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal writes within his Final Thoughts column. Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com spotted the Ohio native in Cleveland’s for last night’s Game 5 between the Cavs and the Bulls (Twitter link). Cole, a restricted free agent, is a client of Klutch Sports, the same Cleveland-based agency that represents LeBron James and Tristan Thompson.
  • Monty Williams thought Tuesday’s meeting with Pelicans management would include discussion about a contract extension, league sources told John Reid of The Times-Picayune. Instead, it was in the meeting that the Pelicans told Williams they were firing him, and executive vice president of basketball operations Mickey Loomis admits the coach was surprised by the termination, Reid writes. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported Tuesday that the expectation was that the Pels would use the meeting to tell the coach that they would at least pick up his option for 2016/17.
  • Williams regarded Loomis as his immediate supervisor rather than consulting with GM Dell Demps, and the coach last week admitted that he and Demps hadn’t always seen eye-to-eye about the roster, Reid writes in the same piece. Demps, who wasn’t in the meeting in which Williams learned of his firing, denied that there was a disconnect between him and the coach.
  • Anthony Davis was close with Williams, as USA Today’s Sam Amick notes, but the star was cognizant that Williams probably wouldn’t be his coach for his entire career, and Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel posits that the Pelicans made the change in part to try and entice Davis to stay. Williams sits atop the market for rookie scale extensions, as I examined earlier today, and if New Orleans doesn’t sign him to one this offseason, he’d hit restricted free agency in 2016.