NEW YORK, USA –Dell Demps was dropped as general manager of the NBA's New Orleans Pelicans on Friday, February 15 (Saturday, February 16, Manila time) after what coach Alvin Gentry called a "dumpster fire" surrounding star Anthony Davis.
Demps, who had served as general manager of the team since 2010, and the club agreed to a mutual parting, the team said in a statement.
"We will immediately begin the process of restructuring our basketball operations department," Pelicans owner Gayle Benson said.
Demps, a former PBA import back in the 1990s with Shell and 7-Up, was appointed as the general manager of the New Orleans franchise back in July 2010. The team went to the playoffs 3 times but only advanced out of the first round once.
Former Cleveland Cavaliers and Atlanta Hawks general manager Danny Ferry, a Pelicans consultant with more than 25 years of NBA experience as a player and executive, was named the club's interim general manager.
"My focus for the rest of the season is to provide leadership to our basketball operations group and give Alvin and our players the resources and support to positively impact the culture and foundation now and moving forward," Ferry told The Athletic website.
Demps exited barely a week after the NBA trade deadline passed with Davis still on the Pelicans roster despite saying he wanted a transfer to an NBA title contender. (READ: Anthony Davis requests trade, wants out of New Orleans)
Davis, who's averaging 28.5 points, 13.1 rebounds and 4.2 assists a game this season, is expected to be a free agent in 2020 but his early trade request created tumult in the organization.
Davis said he will not sign a long-term extension with the Pelicans, leaving him to play out the final year of his contract with New Orleans next season or be shipped out for whatever they can get.
The Los Angeles Lakers were reportedly in deep talks for a deal on Davis, but backed off when they kept getting different terms, saying the Pelicans kept wanting more and more even after the Lakers would scramble to assemble an offer. (READ: Lakers end Anthony Davis talks over 'outrageous' demands)
Asked if the Pelicans bargained in good faith, Lakers president Magic Johnson tersely replied, "No." (READ: Lakers' Magic: Davis talks by Pelicans not in good faith)
It will be the new general manager who decides among what are expected to be several bid deals for a Davis trade while he remains under contract.
The Pelicans have the disadvantage of trying to make a deal with teams knowing Davis wants to go anyway, limiting what gains New Orleans can expect. Davis was fined $50,000 for revealing his desire to be sent elsewhere.
The entire debacle has taken a toll on the Pelicans, Gentry said, his team having slid to 26-33, third-worst in the Western Conference and 6 games behind the Los Angeles Clippers for the last playoff spot.
"To tell you the truth, this whole thing has been a dumpster fire," Gentry said. "It's hard for guys to go through what they've been through."
Great expectations by owner
But Benson demanded the Pelicans do more than finish off a disappointing season in the last two months of the campaign.
"My expectations, and the expectations of our fans, are that this team will compete at a high level for the remainder of the season," Benson said.
Davis, who had been sidelined with a finger injury, suffered a bruised left shoulder on Thursday against Oklahoma City and is uncertain for Sunday's NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte.
The Pelicans reached the playoffs only 3 times under Demps, losing to eventual champion Golden State in the second round of last season's playoffs.
The biggest deal under Demps sent former New Orleans star Chris Paul to the Clippers in 2012. – Rappler.com