In response to a Times-Picayune journalist's call to sell his sports' franchises, Tom Benson issued a statement to fans on Sunday evening that he will remain the owner of both the New Orleans Pelicans and Saints.
He went on to state that Jeff Duncan's article was "fraught with inaccuracies especially as they pertain to our partnership with the State of Louisiana or the structure of our organization."
While the squabble between a self-made billionaire and a local paper has proven amusing entertainment, the focus should be on the path forward for the teams themselves, and for our purposes, specifically the Pelicans.
Tom Benson purchased the then-Hornets in April of 2012. After spending close to two years run by the NBA league's office, many were relieved a legitimate owner had taken control of the team.
Former Head Coach Monty Williams said it well. "When you have somebody like Mr. Benson, I think it makes it a ton easier because you have stability and a foundation. It can only be good for me as a coach, our players and especially our city."
Following Anthony Davis' rookie season, Benson set forth a mandate of speeding up the winning process, and Dell Demps dealt away many available draft picks. Through several trades that brought Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans and Omer Asik to New Orleans, the Pelicans skipped several steps of the rebuild process and proceeded to surround Davis with a youngish core.
Mixed results remain as to the selected path. Despite a number of key injuries, the Pelicans made the 2015 postseason in a very difficult Western Conference. However, the team has yet to enjoy meaningful success this season, and it has raised doubts ranging from the sensibility of the continuity plan to the hire of the new coaching staff led by Alvin Gentry.
One thing is for certain, though. Not only does Benson plan on remaining the owner, he reiterated the notion that the Pelicans will stay in win-now mode.
What is important to me is getting both our teams back to winning and challenging for championships. That is what our fans want most, and no one is more keenly aware of the urgency of that objective than me.
For those hoping to see the New Orleans general manager tear down the existing roster and look to improve the team through the next draft or two, it sounds far from likely. If anything, it seems much more plausible that the Pelicans would use their draft picks (if the season ended today, including the 4th overall pick of the 2016 NBA draft), on improving immediately in hopes of saving this season.