With a win/loss record of 48-34 and advancing to the second round of the 2018 playoffs, the New Orleans Pelicans season was an obvious success, exceeding even many of the most hopeful of expectations. The franchise has already picked up Head Coach Alvin Gentry’s option for the following season, but does he and/or General Manager Dell Demps deserve multi-year contract extensions? If so, for how many years?
Everyone should be given some sort of security. David Grubb suggested that the extensions should be tied to Anthony Davis’ contract on a recent The Bird Calls podcast and I too believe this to be the right move.
I think both Demps and Gentry deserve three year contract extensions. Honestly, prior to this season, I thought Demps was more problematic moving forward than Gentry. People liked criticizing the Head Coach, but I always thought that was a little unfair. I’m not saying Gentry did everything right, yet at the end of the day, coaches can only win with good players or ones who fit their system. You can run all the fancy plays you want, but somebody has to actually take the shots and if the that someone is Solomon Hill, Dante Cunningham, Tim Frazier, etc, you’re in trouble.
This season Gentry showed impressive flexibility, essentially changing the entire offense on the fly after DeMarcus Cousins was lost for the season. Gentry was able to keep the team emotionally engaged at a time when they could have easily given up. He’s also accepted and worked well with several fabulous hires on his staff, giving Darren Erman and Chris Finch a lot of freedom to implement their strategies and ideas. Without sound assistants in today’s high-paced, ever-changing landscape, you’re not even going to make it to the game.
Demps, on the other hand, is a little more complicated. Make no mistake the Pelicans General Manager was masterful this season, but that shouldn’t erase all the questionable moves he’s made in the past. The team appears hamstrung by the massive Solomon Hill contract and don’t forget the weight of the Alexis Ajinca and Omer Asik deals. However, Demps has shown improvement and deserves the chance to finish what he started.
While there can be no denying the solid job Dell Demps did in the 2017/18 season, I am not set on handing him an extension just yet. True, the Nikola Mirotic trade was a slam dunk, coupled with the reprieve the Pelicans received from dumping the Omer Asik contract; however, this team still seems to lack direction.
After giving up two future first round picks to invest in a future involving two big men, it already seems as if the team is willing to part with Boogie to return to the small ball form that Alvin Gentry had always requested. While albatross contracts like Omer Asik, Eric Gordon and Alexis Ajinca and injuries cannot be entirely blamed on him, the fact remains that Demps has captained the Pelicans to but seven postseason wins in eight years. Should Demps warrant an extension, he will have to prove it once more during the 2018/19 season by navigating these tricky Boogie waters, adding more talent against a razor thin cap sheet, and extending the NBA’s most promising 25-year-old in the near future.
While I have been extremely impressed with Gentry and his job of navigating the myriad of rosters he has had to work with in his brief three-year stint, an extension can not be justified until the general manager’s future is assured. So, until Dell Demps merits his own extension, the future of Gentry should be tied to his GM.
Initially, I thought 2-3 year extensions for both, to coincide with the next Anthony Davis contract, made sense. After the Warriors series, though, I’m more comfortable letting them go into next year as lame ducks again. It was one great season, but also one where they made the playoffs by just two games. Let’s see some consistency before the Pelicans commit big dollars or years to keeping them around. It’s not like the market is pounding at their door anyway.
I, like a few others on media row and here at The Bird Writes, am fully on board with maintaining the status quo in New Orleans until at least the end of Anthony Davis’ current contract.
Dell Demps has assembled together a promising core that produced one of the winningest seasons in franchise history, and Alvin Gentry and his staff were able to enjoy a high level of success despite some devastating obstacles. They both deserve to see this compilation through for at least the next few years and watch how it all unfolds. If the Pelicans suffer another nose dive or the worst happens — Davis leaves the Crescent City, you start fresh in two year’s time. If not, you reward them with bigger extensions for a job well done.
Gentry should be here as long as he’s got the horses to make this version a contender for home court advantage in the West. If DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo and others start to leave, without good replacements, the team could start to lose games and their identity change.
Demps is a man living on borrowed time, but he has gotten over a hump. It all goes back to the Boogie trade — before that came about two All-Star games ago, The Pelicans GM was on his way out. Now with the addition of Boogie, Rondo, Mirotic, alongside the long-term contracts of AD and Jrue, this team could be pretty good for the next 4 years! 4 more years! 4 more years!