Editor's note: We asked the staff this question late on Friday night after The New Orleans Advocate reported that sources indicate Dell Demps would be retained as General Manager. Since that report, more recent information has come out, from the very same reporters, that a final decision has not yet been decided either way.
Per a source, the Pelicans have NOT made a decision on the future of Dell Demps or any other part of basketball operations. (1/3)— Brett Dawson (@BDawsonWrites) April 24, 2016
"Careful evaluation" of Pelicans operations still being made, as is the case after each season, a source said. (2/3)— Brett Dawson (@BDawsonWrites) April 24, 2016
As @ScottDKushner and I reported yesterday, been no indication that Demps will be fired. But a final decision has not been made. (3/3)— Brett Dawson (@BDawsonWrites) April 24, 2016
It has long been the opinion of much of this staff that the actual decision makers on Dell Demps future (owner Tom Benson, President Dennis Lauscha, and Vice President of Basketball Operations Mickey Loomis) are not sourced. Insiders with access to their thinking are rarely, if ever, speaking to media outlets even indirectly on actions yet to occur. Most information we see from sources from "within the league" or "within the Pelicans organization" come from personnel below Dell Demps. Such reports even then are rare. The crew on Airline Drive might not be terribly good, but they run a nearly leak-free ship.
While we often rail on the decisions this ownership group makes, it is highly unlikely they would provide sufficient evidence to people below Dell Demps if the job of their boss is or is not safe which could then be forwarded to various sourced reports. Dell Demps may be retained and deliver a press conference Monday afternoon. After his meeting with ownership, there may be a different decision rendered than what is expected by those below Dell's paygrade.
That said, onto the round table!
Are the New Orleans Pelicans making the right move by reportedly retaining Dell Demps for next season?
Nico Baguio: I might be the only one left on the island, but I'm still on the side of Demps. With the exception of 1 move (the lengthy Asik deal), I'm either good or "OK" with all of his moves. Let's recap all of his biggest moves:
a. Ryan Anderson S&T - Anderson for Ayon. This was as big of a coup as Dell could have gotten. He basically got his rights for free. Pre-injuries, Anderson was a lights-out shooter.
b. Jrue Holiday Trade - I cannot overstate how important this trade was. Many see it as a "Noel + Payton for Holiday" trade. I don't. I see it more as a "AD became a legit 23+ point scorer" & "We got a GREAT & rare two-way player". The second point is more important -- Noel & Payton, RIGHT NOW, aren't. They're bot huge liabilities on offense.
c. Evans Trade - Vasquez + Lopez for Evans. Two role players for a solid fourth (maybe third) best (albeit quirky) player on a playoff team.
d. Asik Trade - Asik for Sam Dekker? Acceptable. Not that I agree entirely with it. I was one of the few who was ready to give Ajinca a solid 20+ minutes back in 2014-15.
e. Asik's contract -- This is the biggest sticking point for me. I was expecting a 3-year deal with a team option (or unguaranteed) in the 4th year. It was one year longer and that made all the difference.
Plus, it's going to create another awkward situation where the GM doesn't hire the coach. I'd like to see Dell retained for one more year or so.
Kevin Barrios: I'm torn here. On one hand Dell is very good at what I've termed as, "dumpster diving." He always makes a really good end of the roster move every year. This year I'd say he scored on 5 guys (Ish Smith, Bryce Dejean-Jones, James Ennis, Tim Frazier and Jarnell Stokes). Ish was flipped for a couple of 2nd round picks and Stokes was unfortunately waived in a cash grab and then went on the be the D-League MVP.
He's also added some solid top of the roster guys in Holiday and Evans. As Oleh pointed out in this piece back in January those two players combined with Anthony Davis produce a better net rating than anyone aside from the Curry-Green-Thompson pairing in Oakland. Unfortunately, questionable coaching and injuries have limited that trios minutes together.
Now, Dell has also traded a first and anchored us to the dismal Omer Asik and he traded two firsts to get Holiday. He also hired Alvin Gentry over Tom Thibodeau and Jeff Van Gundy. Dell certainly has his blemishes. He hasn't proven that he can draft well, so if he is staying I would like to see the team bring in a guy with a track record of nailing the draft. The John Hammond rumors didn't bother because of his draft record. I don't like the pairing with Dumars, but maybe a Hammond (president)/Demps (GM) pairing could work.
So to be firm in my answer, if help isn't brought in then retaining Demps is probably the wrong choice, but it isn't the worst thing either.
David Fisher: In my opinion this is a question of probability. The Pelicans current path, while winding, can result in success. Great building plans can fail (Sam Hinkie raises his hand) and awful building plans can suddenly appear on the track (Glen Taylor low-balling Kevin Love) with a bit of luck. Much has been made of the ownership's desire to win and to do so in short order. I believe a more patient route provides the greatest probability for success. A different general manager would be far more capable of selling this change in approach (which need not be a massive course correction) to ownership than Dell Demps.
This summer is going to be absolutely chaotic. It is possible that a general manager with a longer view can build a team which competes in the short term while also collecting assets for bigger things in the future. The Pelicans are not exactly flush with assets but an unpredictable market can produce unforeseen opportunities. Dell Demps is not the best person to navigate this environment.
Quentin Haynes: I honestly don’t think so. The Dell Demps tenure has been rather poor, though, that’s not all his fault. The team accelerated the clock by moving several draft picks for "young veterans," which in retrospect, was a bad idea. To say Demps is a disaster is a tad strong, but at this point, I don’t know why he’s someone you have to bring back, which is why I would consider moving on.
Zachary Junda: I'm not sure. But I suppose if I'm not sure then that means "no." General Managers are like blackjack tables, when it's hot you can win big but when the dealer starts taking your money you're left reevaluating all of your life choices. Demps is the guy who's shrewdly found talent for cheap i.e. Dante Cunningham, Tim Frazier and Bryce Dejean-Jones. But he's also given away first round draft picks like they were expired food, matched the Eric Gordon offer from Phoenix, resigned Omer Asik to an unmovable deal and didn't try and move Ryan Anderson at the trade deadline. No GM ever gets it right 100 percent of the time but Demps' misses have been bigger than his hits.
Oleh Kosel: A question I keep circling back to: Could a significant part of the disappointment of the 2016 season have been circumvented by the general manger beforehand? My answer is in the affirmative, yes. Here let me delve into several examples.
Prior to the announcement of the Gentry hire, I was already worried about offering Omer Asik a long-term contract and preferred alternatives. Yet, in comes a space-and-pace proponent and Asik is handed a 5 year deal? I'm almost afraid to ask, but did Gentry's sell of the lumbering center as the second coming of Andrew Bogut have any bearing on either his hire or Asik's re-signing? If so, that's automatic grounds for dismissal.
Next, I, a part-time blogger, revealed that a combination of Tyreke Evans-Jrue Holiday-Eric Gordon was not suited to play uptempo. New Orleans finished with a very respectable 1.14 PPP average but the team resided in the bottom tier in terms of frequency, trailing noted slower paced teams like the Bucks and Cavaliers. As to where Stephen Curry scored 20.1% of his points in transition and Klay Thompson 17.5%, Jrue Holiday's 10.5% and Tyreke Evan's 14.6% paled in comparison. Even better, their PPPs were laughably worse than the Warrior counterparts.
Lastly, the roster missed 351 games. A number of injuries are unforeseeable but an evaluation of the team's medical staff exposed flaws in the infrastructure that I strongly believe played a role in the dismal season. One should assume the archaic nature of the caretakers sits at least partially on the general manager's shoulders.
I've often come to the aid of Dell Demps in the past, but the accrual of talent is no longer enough to overcome all the negatives surrounding the New Orleans Pelicans. It's probably time for change.
Fernando Ritzman: I think the Pelicans would be making a good move by retaining Demps this offseason and giving him a chance to acquire favorable personnel for Gentry's system. If, however, you let him go and retain Gentry, the organization will find itself in the same situation when Demps was hired when Monty Williams was in place -- a GM that didn't get to hire his own guy. Give them both another year, and if it goes south again, there will be plenty of justification to make moves across the board.
Owen Sanborn: It is increasingly difficult to assess Demps properly due to the onslaught of injuries to seemingly every Pelicans player over the past few seasons. A GM is only as good as his roster, but how are you supposed to evaluate the GM if the roster is never really in place? For that reason, I think Demps has bought himself at least another year. He has always been a positive when it comes to making moves on the margin (Tim Frazier being the latest example), and if he is able to find a proper second banana to Anthony Davis this summer, he could be in the GM's chair for another half decade. That is how things seem to work in the NBA. Demps will either hit a home run and retain his job for the long haul or strikeout and be sent packing.