Make no mistake about it: Dell Demps’s time was up with the New Orleans Pelicans, whether it was this summer or on Friday, when the franchise fired the longtime general manager of the floundering team.
You could say the way he and the front office handled the Anthony Davis Saga – with the latest chapter, in which the forward left Thursday’s game with a shoulder injury – was the reason for the mid-All Star break firing, but it was more like the last straw.
Since becoming GM of the then-Hornets in 2010, the franchise has made the playoffs just three times and failed to surround Davis with the supporting cast necessary to compete for a title after Demps was handed a superstar on a silver platter.
That’s really why he was fired.
This is the general manager who once signed Omer Asik to a five-year, $58 million contract two season removed from 10.1 ppg and 11.7 rpg with the Rockets. He matched a $58 million offer sheet that Eric Gordon signed with the Suns, then watched as the guard never reach 20 ppg again (the Rockets later figured out he was more of a sixth man). He signed Solomon Hill (!!!) to a $48 million deal after he showed flashes of potential in Indiana.
He was involved in the trade that ex-NBA commissioner David Stern nixed when the league temporarily owned the franchise, with Chris Paul going to the Los Angeles Lakers in a three-team deal that would have gotten the Hornets Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Lamar Odom and Goran Dragic. Instead, Demps dealt him to the Clippers for Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu, Chris Kaman and a first-rounder. Either way, Stern later called Demps “a lousy general manager.”
FTW: Adam Silver unveiled the NBA’s jersey of the future and fans had all the jokes
JERSEYS: 9 questions we have about the futuristic, changeable new NBA jerseys
He dealt Buddy Hield – currently breaking out in Sacramento – and a first-rounder in a package for DeMarcus Cousins, a risk considering the forward’s contract was set to run out in 2018, and although combining him and Davis worked, Cousins’ Achilles injury once again sent the team scrambling.
Let’s be fair: His trade for Jrue Holiday (he sent Nerlens Noel to the Trust the Process Sixers) was a heist. But that’s one winner in a bunch of failed transactions.
And if the reports are true that Demps didn’t pick up the phone with Magic Johnson calling before the NBA trade deadline to negotiate over trading Davis, then it was absolutely the nail in the coffin. Demps and the Pels deserve some of the blame for the Davis saga going past the deadline, and now whoever the new GM is might have some repairs to make with other front offices around the league.
It’s just more bad news for the franchise that will have to undergo a full makeover, one that might take years before Demps’ work is completely wiped out.