Danny Ferry joined Sean Kelley on yesterday’s episode of the Black and Blue Report and he shared a lot of great insight about the Pelicans young core, who have garnered a lot of playing time following the Anthony Davis trade request bombshell.
New Orleans interim general manager first mentioned the challenge he faced upon taking over for Dell Demps and stressed the need for a positive approach.
“This is a challenging situation for sure, and unprecedented and complex — or things Adam Silver would say about it,” said Ferry. “That said, you know, we have 25 games left. Lets focus on getting the most out of them as we can. We’ve gotten a good opportunity to see Julius playing a better role, in a different role, and Elfrid more. And then our young guys, Frank, Kenrich and Cheick, have really stepped up. So just trying to make some real positives out of what we have left the rest of the year and I think we have.”
Ferry refused to dwell on any negatives, like acknowledging the Pelicans season might have been hijacked by a single circumstance, and went on to further accolade the younger members of the roster.
“Frank’s getting a great opportunity to play and is making progress. Kenrich has been a great surprise and we’re excited to have him. Cheick’s played down the stretch. Just in general, we’ve been very competitive night in and night out.”
Of course, that newfound competitive nature took a sizable hit when Jrue Holiday was recently saddled with an abdominal injury, but Ferry believes this presents more opportunity for the other guys. The hope is they continue to play the right way, learning and growing as a group.
Specifically regarding Frank Jackson, Ferry feels the game is finally slowing down for him and I think many of us would agree with that take.
“Well, he’s obviously a young player. He didn’t get to play at all last year. He played one year at Duke. He has a lot to learn. I think the game is starting to slow down for him some, and for a young guy, that’s step one. And then you can really start to make improvements. But as the game slows down for him, he’ll get better and better.”
Jackson is in the midst of the best stretch of his career, averaging 14.1 points and 4.4 rebounds on good shooting percentages this month. It’s important to note that a lot of his minutes are now coming against other starters in the league, and he’s holding his own.
Ferry’s greatest praise, though, was reserved for Kenrich Williams.
“He’s a good basketball player that really competes and plays hard. There’s obviously areas that he needs to improve — heck, every one of these guys has areas they need to improve. But Kenrich has a great basketball IQ. He plays with a great passion and intensity. You can just feel how we’re just a smarter team when he’s out on the court even as a rookie. He just has a knack for playing the right way and doing smart things out there.”
The one commonality that audiences have picked up on with these growing Pelicans is their unrelenting effort. Ferry isn’t surprised by it; furthermore, he feels that’s precisely the reason why they were all added in the first place.
“I think that’s their DNA a little bit. I think that’s why we wanted them within the organization when we brought them in. Their DNA was to play hard when they were drafted or signed or whatever it was. They have certainly shown that and it’s exciting. Our veterans have — Jrue loves playing with those guys for example. To go out there and play with the energy they do, it’s contagious. It’s been fun. It’s helped us be competitive.”
Speaking of bringing players to New Orleans, Ferry explained his rationale behind the addition of Dairis Bertans.
“He can shoot. He can really shoot. He’s going to probably be a little out of whack early. I don’t think we should expect too much from him early because of just getting off a plane, a whole new game, different rules, and so on. But he’s a kid that really competes. He can play pick and roll and he can really, really shoot. We’re excited to have him and have him for this summer and possibly going forward.”
Ferry stated that he was involved in the decision-making process of drafting Davis Bertans when he was with the San Antonio Spurs. Thus, he’s always followed Dairis from afar and likes what the older brother has to offer: he competes, plays hard, and brings a skill to the game that helps the group. However, Ferry went on to caution that Bertans may need more time to adjust to the NBA rules (say defensive three seconds) and the speed of the game — it’s faster than what Dairis was accustomed to in Europe.
For those interested, Ferry hinted Bertans will play for the Pelicans next summer league teams as the experience would be helpful.
In addition to individual player development, Ferry was adamant in his belief that an interim GM can start building a new culture despite any roster uncertainty.
“That was a goal. I mean lets start to think about what’s going forward. Lets define where we really are and build some hope. And with these young guys you can start to have some hope going forward.”
Naturally, anything built during the remainder of this season will be subject to the direction the New Orleans organization decides to take this summer when in all likelihood Anthony Davis gets traded away and the Pelicans add several impactful players to the core.
“Obviously, there’s a lot of big decisions in front of this organization. Direction and opportunities in front of them will help dictate somewhat the direction of the organization going forward.”
Asked if he had any ambitions to be named the permanent general manager, Ferry dodged the question, but he didn’t rule out the possibility.
“I’m just going to focus on right now and kind of work through this situation. I think the group deserves for me to focus on what we have in front of us right now. We’re asking them to do the same. I’ll look and talk about those things at an appropriate time.”