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Front Office Rumors

Stacy Revere

Zach Lowe, who always has his ear to the ground for rumblings in the various front offices around the league, posted the five teams who had the most attractive GM positions that might open up soon. The most attractive on the list? New Orleans. That's shocking to me for a lot of reasons - for one thing, despite the vague ramblings of Jimmy Smith, I wasn't aware that Demps was on the hot seat. For another reason, the Pelicans have a mediocre situation at best - we have trouble attracting free agents, limited support staff, decent facilities, and a cap that's pretty much maxed out until 2016. Lowe says I'm overlooking the bigger issue:

It doesn't matter. This will be the league's most attractive front-office and coaching destination the moment either position opens up. Everybody wants to be part of the Anthony Davis experience.

I suppose that has some merit to it - being able to manage a team with Anthony Davis means that you have a guy that's going to explode and probably make you look really good as a GM no matter what you do.

Folks around the league have been wondering for weeks whether the team would bring back Dell Demps, the GM, for the final year on his deal after a disappointing 2013-14 season. The consensus is growing that Demps is likely safe, though ownership needs to see progress next season - and perhaps a playoff berth in the ultracompetitive West.

So it indeed looks like Demps was on the hot seat this season, but Benson and Loomis appear to have decided to keep him for the final year on his deal. But was this because they believed in Demps or because they didn't want to pay to buy out his contract? Now here's the flabbergasting part:

But Demps and Monty Williams haven't always seen eye to eye, according to several league sources, and ownership is more committed at this point to Williams as a long-term organizational pillar.

I have to say, this is pretty flabbergasting. For one thing, I'm very interested in the fact that there's been a split between Demps and Monty - that seems to jive with what we've seen on the court. We have a team that's created to play new-school positionless basketball with a coach that's hell-bent on deploying them in a traditionalist manner. Another example would be the incredible amount of minutes that Greg Stiemsma received last season only to have Dell Demps casually waive him to open up space for a filler contract that can be used as trade bait in the off-season. I'm glad to have some reassurance for what I've been suspecting all along - that Demps and Monty have very different visions for what kind of basketball the Pelicans should be playing.

The general view around this site is that Demps usually makes pretty savvy deals within the constraints of what the front office directs him to do. He clearly understands the nuances of the CBA and constructs deals cleverly to try to squeeze every dollar out of the salary cap. Monty, by contrast, is the one you'd want to keep - he has schemes from the stone age and although he's good at adjusting when he's forced to (usually by huge injury problems), he can't seem to get the best out of his optimal lineups. And I understand that firing a coach that's been chosen to be on the Olympic team is pretty weird, but the past few years make me think that Monty should be the one packing his bags, not Dell.

But this is where it just gets bananas:

Two names to watch if the Pellies eventually part ways with Demps: Joe Dumars and Bobby Marks, the Nets' assistant GM. Dumars is from Louisiana and tight with higher-ups from the New Orleans Saints, a relationship that dates to well before any real possibility Tom Benson would ever own an NBA team. Marks is well respected and could become a candidate for the New Orleans job.

But neither has had any direct conversations about the job or lobbied for it at all with Demps still on board.

Oh man, Joe Dumars? This brings us one step closer to my nightmare scenario: a team led by Joe Dumars and Monty Williams. The only silver lining in that chunk of text is that neither of them are actively trying to vulture Demps's job.

So this is the prism through which we have to view the Pelicans offseason - both Demps and Monty are fighting for their jobs and they have very different visions for their jobs. If the Pelicans hit the lottery again next season, it's a pretty simple outcome - one or both will be fired. But if by the grace of Anthony Davis they make the playoffs, what happens then? Is the fissure between Demps and Monty just papered over? Do we continue to have a team that's built to play new-age basketball but coached to play old-school basketball? I don't see that fundamental conflict being resolved without one of the two being fired.