The New Orleans Pelicans finally, like a woman going to divorce court after a bad marriage where the love was gone ages ago, parted ways with embattled general manager Dell Demps.
And across the Big Easy, someone’s bound to set “Ding Dong the Wicked Witch is Dead” to a Louis Armstrong trumpet.
Let’s have something clearly understood. Demps was one of the biggest reasons the Pelicans were completely unable to build a positive environment around superstar Anthony Davis, and it doesn’t take a genius to connect the dots to the massive Demps-ter fire that resulted when Davis, LeBron James, agent Rich Paul, and the Los Angeles Lakers turned into a Voltron of bad press and worse basketball for the struggling Pelicans as they couldn’t get rid of Davis at the deadline.
Now, mind you, Demps wasn’t the only one smeared in crap from this whole affair.
For one thing, LeBron now has to deal with an entire squad’s worth of teammates plus a coach who know beyond a doubt what the King really thinks of them, and if I were Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, or anyone else on that steaming pile of a team, I wouldn’t shed a tear about my so-called part in the first NBA playoffs without LeBron involved since the 42-40 Cavs lost the tiebreaker to the then-New Jersey Nets in 2005.
Rich Paul and Klutch Sports just came out looking like fools as well, as the clear message to anyone else who would sign Paul as an agent is “you are not my priority, LeBron is, and everything I do for you will be for LeBron’s benefit, not yours.”
And, of course, Magic Johnson looks like a giant patsy as well, as all of his authority in the Lakers’ front office was revealed as the sham that it is; it is LeBron’s team, not Earvin’s.
I’m sparing Luke Walton here because Walton gets a permanent pass for starting 39-4 with that legendary 2015-16 Warriors team that actually did better under Luke than they did under Steve Kerr (34-5, an eternity’s worth of blew-a-3-1-lead jokes.) Even getting that garbage roster to 35 wins last season was impressive.
Walton’s going to be fired, of course, because King James wills it, but wherever he ends up next, he’s going to do just fine. Could be Portland if their patience runs out with Terry Stotts, could be Oklahoma City if Billy Donovan gets clowned in the playoffs by a better coach, could be Memphis once the Grizzlies figure out that J.B. Bickerstaff couldn’t coach a pee wee league team.
But anyway, I digress. Dell Demps’ fate was sealed way back in 2011, when Chris Paul went to the Clippers.
Not because Demps had anything to do with that trade, of course—one need not rehash the controversy surrounding David Stern basically giving the middle finger to the Lakers.
The bigger problem was when Stern went over Demps’ head, undercut his authority as a decision maker, and basically told everyone else in the now-Pelicans organization that Demps was no more an authority figure than was Elgin Baylor when he was continually in the thrall of Clippers owner/racist scumbag Donald Sterling, effectively a doddering idiot and token.
So of course, when the Pellies got Davis, Demps never had the authority or the credibility to build a team around him.
Demps even got hoodwinked by Sam Hinkie, falling hook, line, and sinker for the used-car deal that brought Jrue Holiday to New Orleans and exposed just how bad the Pelicans organization was for not doing their own due diligence in looking to Holiday’s health.\n
Sure, Hinkie killed his own credibility and accelerated the ongoing disaster in Philly, but it was Demps who played the patsy who should’ve known better.
It is simply not possible to be a credible general manager who can build a capable roster around a superstar when you’re such a weak leader, and the rest of the league knows it.
And, ultimately, Anthony Davis, Rich Paul, and LeBron James figured it out, their gambit to land the Brow in Tinseltown laid low only when, like a big fish eating a little fish only to itself be devoured by a still-bigger fish, Danny Ainge started using the Dark Side Force powers he’s learned in the same market where Bill Belichick does his dark arts to convince New Orleans to punt the season and do the trade in the summer.
And Demps, as one last insult, had his decision to sign off on basically giving Davis the Jimmy Butler treatment with an “injury” scotched by Adam Silver.
Who keeps around a guy who wore out his welcome eight years ago and showed he was not fit for purpose to do his job?
A Dumpster fire of an organization that has won just one playoff series with a generational talent anchoring the roster, that’s who.
The Pelicans have finally done that most blatantly obvious of steps to restore franchise credibility. When they’re reconstituted as the Sonics after the league moves them to Seattle, fans in the Emerald City can thank Demps for the franchise.
Meanwhile, New Orleans…well, at least you’ve still got Mardi Gras and the Saints.