The New Orleans Pelicans will get another chance to build around a generationally exceptional talent in Zion Williamson. That pressure can lead to short-sighted decisions, and the Anthony Davis era had plenty of examples.
Dell Demps had a long tenure with the New Orleans Pelicans franchise, lasting almost a decade with a team once wearing Hornets jerseys. He signed Patrick Ewing to play in New Orleans, which says a lot about his longer than average time running a franchise.
The first few months of the Demps era were drastically different than this summer under David Griffin’s guidance. Dell Demps was trading away draft picks constantly and never received less than market value in return.
The most obvious example is comparing the Anthony Davis trade with the Chris Paul negotiations. Sure, ownership demands were the most unique in professional sports. Still, Demps could have approached things differently.
Paul and Davis are All-NBA talents, who many believed had been limited by the New Orleans Pelicans. If they could only escape the Big Easy, they could seriously be considered an NBA Finals contender.
Davis has a chance with the Los Angeles Lakers and LeBron James. However, the rest of the roster is questionable at best. Expectations have never been higher for Davis, but he might find it difficult to get past the second round of the NBA Playoffs. That would make the Lakers a lateral move at best, from a competitive perspective.
Chris Paul learned that lesson in Los Angeles. The Clippers never made it any further than the Hornets team that lost to the San Antonio Spurs in a Game 7. Paul then forced his way to Houston, and now resides in Oklahoma City.
Demps got a single draft pick for Paul. Griffin got a trade haul that creating a gloating Gentry meme. Both trade packages come with pressing contract issues attached. The New Orleans Pelicans approach must be different this time, lest they risk the same fate with Zion Williamson.
Not every move Demps made was detrimental to winning with Paul and Davis. He started off great, acquiring Trevor Ariza and Marco Belinelli in his first month on the job. However, two months later he traded a first-round pick.
So what were the most questionable moves of the Dell Demps era? Why did they not work, and how can the team approach the same dilemmas going forward? Let’s look at that first-round draft pick, and how the trade played out.