METAIRIE, La. — Dell Demps is smart enough to know that openly admitting what the Pelicans need most is akin to showing a poker hand to opponents in a casino.
So, earlier this week in his final media availability prior to tonight’s NBA draft, the Pelicans’ general manager kept things close to the vest.
But he did admit one thing.
“I don’t know if we get the greatest area of need in the draft,” Demps said. “A lot of it depends on who is available at that pick.”
And that would seem to be an acknowledgement that if all fell right, the Pelicans would be interested in taking either a center or forward.
That’s the rub. The three players the Pelicans brought in or interviewed that fit that description are expected to go in the first five picks.
Indiana’s Victor Oladipo (6-foot-5, 214 pounds) is a combo guard/forward. Maryland’s Alex Len (7-1, 255 pounds) is a true center. UNLV’s Anthony Bennett (6-8, 240 pounds) is a true forward.
While all would work in New Orleans, most mock drafts have them going earlier than No. 6.
Demps, though, said that they won’t get caught up in traditional positions. The game has changed, as witnessed by the mostly position-less San Antonio Spurs reaching the NBA Finals this season.
“In today’s game a lot of guys are interchangeable so I don’t know if we can just say we want this position or this guy,” Demps said. “I think you want to get a piece that can fit in to your system and help you win basketball games.”
That, though, may not include Michigan's Trey Burke, who could help the Pelicans at point guard. Despite his lack of interchangeability, he may be as NBA-ready as any player expected to go in the top of the draft right now.
That said, the Pelicans entered this offseason with a salary cap figure of nearly $35 million, or almost $24 million below the expected ceiling for the 2013-14 season.
While Demps said nearly everything is on the table, there’s a need to balance winning now versus winning in the future.
“Sometimes you can make a trade and get a player with the thought process being, ‘Hey, you’re going to be here for two or three years and hopefully things go great so you will want to stay here,’ and you re-sign him,” Demps said.
The focus, for now, is on the draft. After hitting on Anthony Davis, the Pelicans hope to do the same this year but Demps said there won’t be pressure on the player they take to equal the former No. 1 overall pick.
“We’re not going to put that pressure on that pick, whoever it is, to make them think that they have to come in right now and save the day,” Demps said.