This is the team Dell Demps built.
These New Orleans Pelicans with this coaching staff is all the product of over six years at the helm for Demps. Every single player under contract was acquired by Demps. Anthony Davis, superstar and franchise cornerstone, was drafted in 2012. He is the longest tenured player and everyone around him was expected, in one way or another, to compliment or maximize his talent. Since last March alone, faced with an exploding salary cap and three draft picks, Dell Demps has added eight new players.
Tim Frazier came first. Originally signed as an emergency guard with an injured player exception, Frazier was kept on this summer with a fresh two year contract. Buddy Hield and Cheick Diallo followed during the 2016 NBA Draft. Solomon Hill, E’Twaun Moore, Langston Galloway, and Terrence Jones joined Tim Frazier in signing on the dotted line in July. Anthony Brown, the newest addition, signed in November after an injury to Lance Stephenson opened up a roster spot.
Of the other seven players under contract, four signed just last summer. Anthony Davis with his massive (and deservedly so) extension kicked things off at 11:01 on June 30th. Omer Asik, Alexis Ajinca, and Dante Cunningham were all signed in the coming days. It is amazing — and depressing at the same time — to see that 12 of the 15 players on the roster signed a contract in the last 18 months.
The remaining three are also Dell Demps acquisitions. Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans joined the team during the summer of 2013 on fresh four-year contracts. Evans via a sign-and-trade, while Holiday’s extension had just kicked in when he moved to the Crescent City for a pair of first round picks. Quincy Pondexter came in a deft 2015 trade, yet he has not played in over a year and a half due to lingering knee problems.
Dell Demps, unlike many general managers around the league, can say with confidence that he has hand selected every single player on the roster. There are no holdovers, no previous regrets still on the books from a prior administration. Each and every contract is his, every player in that locker room is there because Dell Demps offered a contract or a trade to acquire them.
His influence goes beyond just the roster. After firing Monty Williams following the 2015 playoff run, Dell Demps was afforded the ability to select his own coach as well. In came Alvin Gentry with Darren Erman, Robert Pack, and Phil Weber. Some assistant coaches, notably Kevin Hanson who has worked with Anthony Davis since his rookie season, were retained.
Again, to reiterate: Dell Demps picked his own coaching staff in May and June of 2015. In the following 18 months he signed 12 of the 15 current players to contracts. These two things, the coaching staff with their desired approach and the roster, have no reasonable excuse not to fit better with one another.
Have injuries set the Pelicans back? Yes, of course. But at the time all these players were signing new contracts, both Tyreke Evans and Quincy Pondexter were already on the shelf recovering from knee surgeries. Yes, their recoveries have taken far longer than expected, but there has been ample time and 12 new players signed in the last 18 months to attempt to mitigate those circumstances.
It is fair to say much of the Pelicans fan base will be calling for Alvin Gentry’s head in the coming days... if not hours. I struggle to find an adequate argument to keep Gentry on, yet I think the problems with this franchise start higher.
Unfortunately, you can’t fire the owner.
But, this is the team Dell Demps built. He shouldn’t be the one in charge of tearing it down.