Today's press conference began with Demps apologizing for his tardiness -- he had been watching film moments earlier with the coaching staff. He then immediately paid respects to the late Bryce Dejean-Jones.
"First, I want to start off by honoring the memory of Bryce-Dejean Jones... Nothing compared to the loss of Bryce."
The last time Dell Demps addressed the media, the Pelicans were still playing basketball. A scheduled season-ending press conference was cancelled, but local reporters learned through sources in late April that he was "definitely coming back."
When questioned about the lack of media contact and whether he ever felt like he was on the hot seat, Demps chuckled and stated that he felt like he had nothing to add after Alvin Gentry's end of season comments. He later remarked that working with the Benson family and Mickey Loomis has been great.
"I feel fortunate and I'm in a good situation. I have always felt welcome here."
The Pelicans general manager touched on the events of last season, admitting the disappointment, but quickly moved on to thank the head coach and his staff. Demps thought they worked hard and stayed positive through the adversity. Despite the mounting losses, he felt positives emerged including the start of an identity.
Demps next addressed the addition of Danny Ferry to the front office.
"As you know we added Danny Ferry... His experience, insight and new ideas will fit perfectly."
Later, Demps expounded his thoughts and stated that he trusts Ferry. Since their days together with the San Antonio Spurs, Demps has confided in Ferry about a variety of topics including the time he had once contemplated on getting into coaching, but that Ferry had given him some good advice.
"I feel like he's smart individual."
Demps has been using Ferry as a sounding board since his departure from the Atlanta Hawks, but only now has it been made official.
In regards to the draft set to occur this Thursday, Demps chimed, "It feels like we're going to get a good player." He did not want to get into any specifics for fear of revealing the Pelicans intentions to the rest of the league, but he did mention the possibility of moving draft picks to improve the roster.
Demps is certainly still open to trade out of the draft. Seems less likely to draft a young guy. "Some drafts are better than other drafts."— The Bird Writes (@thebirdwrites) June 20, 2016
Demps expressed his excitement about the upcoming draft and free agency, and stated that the Pelicans will be looking to improve the team's defense. He does not envision the Pelicans having problems with scoring points, and is interested in adding those who impact winning. He claimed there is a plan in place for free agency, but added, "It's hard to speculate on free agency right now."
As far as the Pelicans own free agents, such as Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson, Demps mentioned that an open door policy exists, but anyone who seeks to return must also make sense for the franchise.
"All the players indicated they liked being here and the door is open for them to return." Specifically in regards to Anderson, "We like Ryan. We had a good meeting after the end of season."
Demps reiterated though, it has to be "win-win situation." He was likely referring to the predictions of the impending explosion of the NBA salary cap, jumping from $70 million up to an estimated $94 million. Many have speculated that Anderson's next deal could approach maximum contract money; thus, it has been theorized his price will likely drive him out of New Orleans.
Interestingly, after making mention of the front office still liking the core, Demps later issued a statement that sounded like changes might be forthcoming.
"I don't know if we're ever going to know how good this team could have been."
There is no doubt injuries have played a decisive factor during the last two seasons; Demps said their prevention is a priority for New Orleans. However, he did go on to reckon that so many were contact-related, so "they're hard to prepare for."
Demps went into detail of several important rotation pieces. First, he discussed Omer Asik and was upfront, "He didn't have a good season." Demps stated Asik is a "no-excuses guy," but admitted an offseason plagued by back issues might have led to his injury in pre-season because he entered the year out of basketball-shape.
But, the franchise still has expectations: "For us to be good, he has to have a good season."
Not having the services of Quincy Pondexter set the the team back in Dell's eyes, as did all the injuries to Tyreke Evans.
"He wasn't himself last year. I'm hoping he can bounce back. He was very important two years ago."
When asked about Evan's fit under Gentry, Demps curiously avoided directly answering the question by stating that he's a warrior and a good basketball player.
Dell Demps concluded the press conference by briefly commenting on the Pelicans immediate future, in particular a return to the playoffs. While smiling, he opined "I'm hoping we're not that far away." He genuinely looked optimistic about New Orleans position in a Western Conference that appears less fearsome than from just a few years ago.