New Orleans Pelicans dumped Dell Demps for better bargains

New Orleans Pelicans Dell Demps (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)
New Orleans Pelicans Dell Demps (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Dell Demps was fired by the New Orleans Pelicans. The Anthony Davis saga was just the final straw. Demps’ downfall was always bargain shopping when he had a luxury item needing premium accessories.

After almost nine years of bargain shopping and dumpster diving, former General Manager Dell Demps has finally been run out of the department store known as the Smoothie King Center. With Anthony Davis asking to be sent to a more upscale consignment shop, the New Orleans Pelicans needed a new thrift shopper to fill the store front.

New Orleans will never be mistaken for Los Angeles or New York, especially during fashion weeks. However, New Orleans is a proud city full of style, substance, swag, and Pride with a capital P. Dell Demps always went into the trade and free agent markets looking to score a gem from the clearance rack. New Orleans is a market willing to support hustle from lesser players, but when a chance to shine presents itself, the city demands a wonderful parade to show off our best features.

In the Second Line of Life following the draft that placed Davis in New Orleans, Dell Demps went with B-Track signings and canned pop tunes instead of leaning into the big brass band that could have been. Signing DeMarcus Cousins was a great last gasp attempt at greatness, but the eventual injury to Cousins showed how much the Pelicans’ foundations needed reinforcements. Dell Demps never brought in quality reinforcements for the long haul. Instead, Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans and Luke Babbitt were all on the court at one point.

The Pelicans organization has taken a beating during the last few weeks. The Pelicans were injury plagued, again. The medical staff situation was criticized by many, again. The front office set up that had Saints point-man Mickey Loomis serving as an absent supervisor to Demps is still being skewered in the media, and for good reason. Though the set up may work wonderfully in house, those ticket-buyers outside the loop are more unconvinced than ever that the resources are being shared efficiently.

Demps kept trying to accelerate Davis into a winning present by sacrificing future assets and cap space. Small moves at the trade deadline helped recoup some of those losses, but those moves were relatively unimportant when it came to a comprehensive review of the Demps Era.

There are in-house candidates to take charge, but those candidates may be tainted for fans. Danny Ferry and David Booth could be wonderful basketball people. Unless they demand more responsibility and accountability than Demps, the Pelicans are likely to suffer from the same after-thought stigma as the do now.

The next General Manager or President of Basketball operations needs to reverse the Laissez-Faire attitude that seems to permeate the Pelicans organizational structure. The players want more, or they want out. That much is obvious, just check the Davis coverage.

Whatever title Gayle Benson gives the new man in charge of Pelicans roster decisions, trading future assets for sixty percent of their value just for a warm body tomorrow is not a plan. For instance, Demps traded Quincy Pondexter, some cash considerations, and a 2018 2nd round draft pick (Tony Carr was later selected) to the Chicago Bulls. In return, the Pelicans got the rights to Ater Majok. That deafening noise you hear is all of Pelican Nation asking, “Who?”

The constant roster churn of replacement parts wore Davis down just as much as anything else. Developing consistently and feeling comfortably stable can do wonders for a team’s win/loss record. Sure, in the NBA that only carries a team so far. The Pelicans got as far as the Golden State Warriors. The rest of league says, “Join the club.” There is no special pity coming to NOLA because Davis could not conquer the Warriors in a seven game series.

Demps deserves no pity for creating such a sixth seed ceiling. Poindexter turned into nothing. Then Demps started throwing darts from a ferris wheel hoping to find a sixth man. Poindexter moved on and did an admirable job for some mid-table teams. Into New Orleans came Perry Jones, Josh Smith, Martell Webster, Jameer Nelson, and other players usually found on the NBA2K free agent scrap heap upon purchase.

Dante Cunningham and Jordan “Instant Grits” Crawford were only marginally better roster additions. Of course, Demps needed to find a gem after giving a below average Solomon Hill an above average contract. To rehash every short-sided move that Demps made to get Davis to the playoffs would stretch the limits of the internet’s total bandwidth. Ironically, getting rid of Demps and Davis could give the Pelicans an unexpected reboot.

Gayle Benson wants to show the coastal markets that she will not be pushed around. A very bold lady with Bourbon Street influences might even chance it and not trade Davis until next season’s deadline. Never send the message you can be bossed around. Paul George was convinced to re-sign with Oklahoma City, after all.

Experienced NBA GM Danny Ferry advised the Pelicans as a consultant this season. Ferry is now the team’s interim GM. His track record is solid, but even his public comments suggest he has not been tasked with trading Davis. Ferry is here to oversee scouting reports and basic organizational duties. Next season is promised to no one in New Orleans.

As per Ferry’s statement on

“My focus for the rest of the season is to provide leadership to our basketball operations group and give [coach] Alvin [Gentry] and our players the resources and support to positively impact the culture and foundation now and going forward.”

Next. Should Pelicans draft Keldon Johnson?. dark

There are lots of decisions to be made before next season. Keeping Gentry could be the best move for who ever takes over the New Orleans Pelicans’ operations. There are no other obviously better options to fit the NBA style, or to appease Jrue Holiday. It was obvious that new leadership was needed, though. Dell Demps had created a reputation as “Dealer Dell,” but really he was dumpster diving all along, trading replaceable parts for other replaceable parts. Now was the perfect time to replace him.