The New Orleans Pelicans have fired general manager Dell Demps, the team announced in a statement on Friday. Former Cleveland Cavaliers general manager Danny Ferry will step in as the team’s interim GM.
The move came less than 24 hours after star forward Anthony Davis, the former No. 1 overall pick who requested a trade late last month, injured his shoulder during a 131-122 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Television cameras captured Davis leaving the arena prior to the end of the game.
Demps had been the franchise’s general manager since 2010.
Demps was expected to at least finish out the season, but the front office has faced scrutiny following Davis’ trade request several weeks ago. The Pelicans opted not to move Davis before last week’s trade deadline, creating an awkward situation for both Davis and the team.
“To tell you the truth, this whole thing has been a dumpster fire,” coach Alvin Gentry told reporters Thursday night, in an apparent allusion to Davis’ situation in New Orleans.
Demps mishandled Davis’ trade request on multiple fronts. The Pelicans should have found out before the season whether Davis planned to sign an extension with the team. Once it became apparent he wouldn’t, the Pelicans should have looked to trade him and return as many assets as possible.
But instead of taking charge of the situation, the situation controlled Demps and the franchise once Davis’ trade request became public.
Refusing to deal with the Los Angeles Lakers until the last minute didn’t help Demps’ case either. It’s quite possible the Pelicans’ upper management had instructed Demps not to trade Davis, which is fine, too. Waiting gives the Pelicans a chance to see if better offers are available in the summer.
And it was unlikely Demps was going to be general manager next season, so it made sense for New Orleans to wait, ensuring the next GM will have a say in the trade and the direction the Pelicans want to go.
But it’s not just the Davis fiasco that sunk Demps. He was unable to build a consistent, winning team around Davis, who became an All-Star in his second season with New Orleans in 2013-14.
The Pelicans lost in the first round of the playoffs in 2015 and lost in the second round last season. Nearly out of the playoff race in the West at 26-33 – 13th place, six games out of the eighth seed – the Pelicans have disappointed.
The Pelicans hired Ferry in 2016 as a special advisor, and he has worked primarily behind the scenes. But now he assumes a front-facing position for at least the remainder of the season.