NEW ORLEANS — The NBA's All-Star Break started with a bang in New Orleans.
The New Orleans Pelicans have fired long-time General Manager Dell Demps, according to a statement from team owner Gayle Benson.
“We will immediately begin the process of restructuring our basketball operations department," she said. "This will include a comprehensive, but confidential, search aided by outside consultants to identify a new leader of our basketball operations, directly reporting to me.”
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski added that owner Gayle Benson was "livid" when she saw an injured Anthony Davis leaving the arena mid-game Thursday night.
"Gayle Benson is telling associates she wants an overhaul of Pelicans and a search for a GM to take command of Davis trade talks and the reshaping of team’s future," he tweeted.
Danny Ferry will be the Pelicans interim General Manager going forward. He's serveda s the Pelicans Special Advisor for the last three seasons. His previous front office experience includes President of Basketball Operations and General Manager for the Atlanta Hawks (2012-15), Vice President of Basketball Operations for the San Antonio Spurs organization (2010-12), and General Manager of the Cleveland Cavaliers (2005-10).
Davis, who has asked to be traded, sustained a shoulder injury in the Pelicans 131-122 win over the OKC Thunder Thursday night. He was seen leaving the Smoothie King Center with his agent, Rich Paul, during the second half to get an MRI exam, the results of which were expected by Friday.
Despite the Pelicans unlikely win, Davis' early departure was all reporters asked Head Coach Alvin Gentry about after the game.
"To tell you the truth, this whole thing has been a dumpster fire," coach Alvin Gentry said, alluding to the effect Davis' trade demand has had on the rest of the team. "It's hard for guys to go through what they've been through, and to be able to come out and beat a team of that quality, I'm happy for all the guys."
But Gentry lost his patience when asked to elaborate on Davis leaving the arena during the game.
"I'm going to talk about the guys that played. They did a great job," Gentry said. "We found a way to win the game. That's what's important."
Gentry then stormed off, ending his postgame interview session in uncharacteristically abrupt fashion.
The Pelicans are 26-33 this season.
Demps was hired by the then New Orleans Hornets in July 2010. In July 2011, he facilitated a blockbuster trade that sent point guard Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Clippers for Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, Al-Farouq Aminu and an unprotected draft pick that was used on Austin Rivers. None of those players are still on the team.
He also drafted Anthony Davis with the No. 1 overall pick in 2012.
Demps' last big move as Pelicans General Manager came in 2017, when he traded for All-Star Center DeMarcus Cousins. The Pelicans gave up Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway and their 2017 first- and second-round picks in return.
Pelicans fans never got to see what a Davis-Cousins tandem could bring to the franchise though. The uber-talented big man sustained a ruptured Achilles during his first full season with the Pelicans, ending his career in New Orleans.
Benson thanked Demps for his service, but said it was time to move on.
“I would like to extend my appreciation to Dell for his tireless work and commitment to our team over the last eight-plus years. Dell, his wife Anita, and his family have been a credit to our city and I wish them nothing but the greatest success going forward. As difficult as these decisions are, my responsibility is to provide the leadership and resources necessary to deliver a winning team to our fans and community. I take that responsibility seriously and would like to assure our fans that I am prepared to provide any, and all, resources required to compete for championships. My expectations, and the expectations of our fans, are that this team will compete at a high level for the remainder of the season. While we still have many more critical decisions to make when this season comes to an end, I am focused on making sure we are properly positioned to succeed and that we are headed in the right direction. Finally, I would like to recognize and thank our fans for their support through all of this. I am excited about our future and the opportunities ahead.”