The New Orleans Pelicans have fired general manager Dell Demps, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowki. This is richly hilarious.
You may recall Demps as the administrative and managerial brain genius who:
- Spent six-plus seasons flailing cartoonishly in various and uniformly failed efforts to build a stable, credible team around lottery-granted superstar Anthony Davis; and
- Responded to Davis’s announcement that he’d decline a contract extension and accompanying trade request by petulantly stonewalling Davis’s destination of choice, the Los Angeles Lakers; and
- According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, leaked the Lakers’ various trade offers in a concerted effort to poison that team’s chemistry, as punishment for what amounts to LeBron James having the same agent as Davis and going “Duh” when asked if he’d like to have Davis on his team; and
- Declined to trade Davis prior to last Thursday’s trading deadline, intentionally pinning an unhappy player in a toxic situation at least through the spring so that the organization could try to leverage better trade offers for him in the summer; and
- Reportedly had to be coerced by the NBA into not shelving Davis for the rest of the season, in a cynical ploy to preserve his trade value above all else; and
- According to the bulk of rumors and reports, did pretty much all of this at the bidding of the detached, clueless, swinging-dick dumbasses who own the Pelicans franchise and run it as a neglected, dysfunctional, increasingly radioactive side-hustle to their principal sports venture, the Saints football team.
As Woj has it, “ownership was livid” at the sight of Davis leaving the arena midway through last night’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, after he’d been ruled out for the remainder of the night with a shoulder injury. Principal owner Gayle Benson now wants “an overhaul of [the] Pelicans” and a “reshaping of [the] team’s future.” I wonder if anybody mentioned that they could have started that overhaul fruitfully a little over a week ago by trading Davis away, instead of pitching a stupid, punitive tantrum over the prospect of one of the sport’s biggest stars expressing an opinion about where he’d like to work.
The inevitability of exactly this happening is only part of what made Demps’s handling of the situation absurd and stupid, but it’s probably the funniest part. Whatever hypothetically sexy package of young talent and/or draft picks the Pelicans get for shipping Davis away this coming summer or before next winter’s trade deadline, and to whatever glory those hypothetical spoils eventually lift this sorry-ass organization, Demps won’t get credit for its architecture. He was already a dead man walking, the doofus whose failures alienated the best player the franchise and its tiny fanbase ever had and who would not meaningfully outlast Davis in New Orleans under any plausible set of circumstances. Oh well. At least he got to help the organization antagonize the brightest star in its history, as well as make enemies out of one of the most powerful agents in the sport and the league’s asset-rich flagship franchise, on his way out.
In any event, in exchange for the service of acting as ownership’s hatchet-man against its own employee, the Pelicans traded Demps a measly week of continued employment, followed by an ignominious firing as soon as that went exactly the only way it ever could. For the record, that’s a whole lot less than the Lakers were offering.