New Orleans Pelicans finally sacked long time General Manager Dell Demps after 8 seasons of pulling a small market team from mediocrity to.. well, more mediocrity.
When Dell Demps was appointed the GM of the Pelicans, Chris Paul was on the verge of leaving and Demps could do nothing about it. Instead what he had was a clean slate.
The ability to tank, draft the no.1 pick that became Anthony Davis and build a team around him that could compete around the generational talent.
The results 7 years later are extremely underwhelming. In his 8 years as GM, the Pelicans have only made the playoffs twice: One first round exit and one second round exit.
ESPN story on New Orleans dismissing Dell Demps — and what's next. https://t.co/fHIbUpkyqB
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 15, 2019
As @wojespn noted, Pels owner was livid at the scene last night. According to a source, it was communicated to Demps that AD and Rich Paul left to get an MRI on his shoulder, but that message was not relayed to head coach Alvin Gentry. He found out from a reporter’s Q
— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) February 15, 2019
Success is sports is never 100% about skill. A small factor of luck always plays its part. Same liberty can be afforded to Demps and his front office to an extent.
His biggest misfortune struck him last year after he had finally given up on his approach to chase young potential stars to pair with Davis, and finally pulled off a trade for DeMarcus Cousins.
Cousins and Davis formed a terrific bond on and off the court and the Pelicans looked like a real threat in the long run with 2 All-Star big men leading the way.
Then came the ACL tear to Cousins and the Pelicans, off the back of a historic run by Davis performed better and routed the higher seeded Portland Trailblazers 4-0 in the first round of the Western Conference before being eliminated by the Warriors in the second round.
— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) February 15, 2019
The Pelicans have reportedly fired GM Dell Demps.
— The Crossover (@TheCrossover) February 15, 2019
His last act was to tell AD and the Lakers to stick it. Dell Demps you are my hero. https://t.co/x3VBNXa9Gh
— John Barchard (@JohnBarchard) February 15, 2019
The run without Cousins was incredibly fun to watch, but it was never sustainable. Demps had seen Davis struggle through the years to make an impact in the loaded west without a second superstar.
In hindsight a better attempt should’ve been made to keep Cousins and Davis together even if it meant slightly overpaying an injured Cousins. In that regard Demps was at fault for falling back to his old ways of pairing Davis up with role players and expecting that to be enough.
However, hindsight is always 20/20 and if Cousins had never fully recovered from the injury and the Pelicans would’ve been stuck with his massive salary for years to come, the results would have still been the same for the franchisee and its superstar Davis.
Over the years Demps has made one bad deal after another. Trading Robin Lopez, who was a good fit next to Davis at the Center spot, for the right to sign Tyreke Evans and later overpaid massively for Omer Asik and Alex Ajinca to the tune of $80 million.
And followed that up a couple of seasons later with a $52 million deal for Solomon Hill, which was the most perplexing contract until Mozgov, Deng and Noah were signed.
During all this, Demps let good players like Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson and Al-Farouq Aminu walk away for nothing in free agency when they could’ve easily used them as trade pieces and collected enough assets to build or trade for a superstar, in the future.
Demps’ role in the Anthony Davis saga with Lakers is now well known. Depending on which of the various reports you choose to believe, Demps made a mockery of Magic Johnson and his Lakers while retaining Davis for a summer where Davis is certainly going to be traded for a handsome package, irrespective of whether that includes a certain Jayson Tatum or not.
With the ownership (Gayle Benson) taking on a more direct role in the Business Operations front, the Pelicans look to have a steadier ship than they have ever had.
The new General Manager, who will be brought on during the summer, will have another blank canvas. Davis will be traded and with it will come a spectacular treasure chest of assets, whichever team it may come from.
Back when Chris Paul was traded, the demand for superstars wasn’t at its peak the way it is today. One superstar hardly moves the needle for a team in its quest to win an NBA Championship anymore and that is why the price for superstars has shot up, with every team looking to contend, requiring to pair up multiple stars.
So Dell Demps screwed up the Anthony Davis Trade, NOT ownership. Demps could have had 6 players and 2 first round picks, if the reports are true. Demps messed up, badly https://t.co/d8aq3zaeU1
— Jason McIntyre (@jasonrmcintyre) February 15, 2019
So, the return in the Davis trade is definitely going to offer the new GM an opportunity to start rewriting the destiny of the Pelicans. Can he/she learn from the mistakes of the predecessor Dell Demps and be more proactive in building a real contender out of the Pelicans? We will find out soon enough.
What is for sure, is that the change had become necessary, and how the owners go about hiring a new front office, and how the new GM goes about reconstructing the roster will decide if the New Orleans Pelicans ever climb out of the mediocrity hole that plagues so many of the leagues small market teams.