Everything Dell Demps was able to say was said in the first 35 seconds of his press conference Tuesday afternoon. There is not a lot there. He was looking down and reading off a prepared statement. None of this, really, is different from any other multimillion dollar corporation.
As Demps repeatedly said he cannot talk about free agents; the CBA forbids it. He should not go through his coaching targets mere hours after Monty Williams was fired. That is before considering that some of his potential target are possibly currently coaching in the NBA playoffs. There are layers of both regulation (the CBA) and etiquette (asking for permission to talk to assistants or potential college coaches under contract) which tie Demps' hands.
That press conference can be found at this link. I took the time to transcribe that first statement.
After an assessment of the team, we believe it is in the best interest of the New Orleans Pelicans to make a coaching change at this time. This is an organizational decision in which we decided a coaching change is best for the long term success of the Pelicans. This is a very difficult decision but I support it. Monty Williams is a man of integrity and a true professional. We thank him for all his hard work and dedication to the Pelicans and we wish him well.
Oleh has his own theory on what has transpired. I don't think the dots he has connected are very far fetched. There has been plenty of smoke when it comes to Dumars. Adrian Wojnarowski, Zach Lowe, Ric Bucher, and any number of well connected reporters have written on Dumars eventual arrival in New Orleans. The sheer volume of reporting has terrified me of the prospect. Even excellent reporters sometimes are duped by solid sources or a franchise can change course making those rumors appear false. But so many?
Diving deeper into those waters is unnecessary, it is thoroughly covered already. I encourage you to read it.
Pelicans Refining Organizational Structure
At some point the organization, even briefly (in the case of the imminent Dumars arrival), has chosen Dell Demps over Monty Williams. Most writers covering the Pelicans would agree this is a good thing. Demps is thought to be more analytically grounded and in favor of a more wide-open offensive approach than what Monty Williams employed while in charge. A general manager, no matter how flawed, is better when the vision he has for building a team aligns with his head coach.
None of that requires believing reports of a rift between Demps and Williams. Just the simple logistics that Monty Williams was hired first and afterward Dell Demps was hired. That's not the synergistic approach I, and many other writers, would prefer. The owner should hire his GM and then empower that GM to hire a coach to fit his basketball ethos.
Tom Benson may have inherited Dell Demps, but he has signed off on every single player on the payroll. Only Eric Gordon was on the team when Benson bought the franchise in 2012. Matching the offer sheet of Phoenix occurred afterward, undoubtedly with Benson's blessing. This team has been built by Dell Demps under the supervision of Mickey Loomis and ultimately Tom Benson.
As Demps said repeatedly, this was an organizational decision. He has no reason to say who were the deciding people or how they voted, but it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out Demps, Mickey Loomis, and Tom Benson were involved. Demps also stated that he will lead the coaching search. The final decision will not be his alone, again the organization will be involved.
These decisions being made in house with many voices can be a good thing. 17 days after the last game the evaluations, discussions, exit interviews, and planning was roughly complete. Firing Monty Williams was decided on by the group of people running the New Orleans Pelicans. That decision was conveyed to Monty Williams by Mickey Loomis and then Dell Demps took the stage for a awkward press conference where he couldn't say much of anything.
This timeline puts New Orleans in the thick of potential candidates; Billy Donovan is the only new head coach hired so far. The new coach can have input on the draft process, the free agent period, and summer league preparations. Some time was obviously necessary to separate the end of the season. It might have been too long, but it was certainly not too short. Firing Williams a couple days or even a week after the last game could come across as callous.
Dell Demps need not seem the only authority on everything Pelicans to have real, functional power. By most accounts Loomis defers to Demps on basketball matters and the next head coach appears to be no different according to the New Orleans Advocate.
Loomis said the type of coach the Pelicans will hire will be left up to Demps. Loomis said the timetable for hiring a coach also is up to Demps.
Loomis has also stated that Dell has "more than this year on his contract" via the Times-Picayune. This falls in line with recent reporting by Marc Stein immediately following the Pelicans departure from the playoffs.
Demps actually has two years left on his contract, with a team option in 2016-17 looming after next season. There have been no tangible signals that his job is under any real threat.
Due in part to their differing arrival times Monty Williams did not report to Dell Demps, instead saying in his press conference that he reports to Mickey Loomis. It makes sense that Loomis, and not Demps, is the one who informed him of his termination. Judging by the quotes from Loomis on the forecast going forward that does not appear to be the case for the next head coach. A more streamlined organizational structure, where the head coach reports to and was hired by the general manager, is a good thing. Even if the optics arriving to that point are less than ideal.