Scratch those Joe Dumars to the Pelicans rumors.
The team on Wednesday laid to rest, at least for now, speculation that Dumars, a Louisiana native and Basketball Hall of Famer, would be taking over as head of basketball operations for the Pelicans. The position is held by Mickey Loomis, who is also the Saints executive vice-president and general manager.
Greg Bensel, senior vice-president of communications and broadcasting for both the Saints and Pelicans said in a statement: “With so many questions surrounding the end of the successful Pelicans season and now Joe Dumars in particular, no job offer or position has been discussed with Joe regarding the Pelicans.
“He is very close to our organization and our ownership and his he has our utmost respect.”
That apparently means the team’s structure would remain the same with Loomis, who in the past has said that his basketball role was “greatly overstated,” overseeing Pelicans General Manger Dell Demps and coach Monty Williams.
Both Demps and Williams have one year to run on their contracts with a team option for 2016-17.
“They’re going to stay with the guys they have,” a source from outside the organization said before the announcement was made. “But from what I hear, their relationship is strained.”
Dumars, a longtime friend of Loomis and Saints coach Sean Payton, has been out of a job since last year, when he left the Pistons organization after 29 years, first as a player, where he helped lead the team to NBA titles in 1989 and 1990 and then a team executive, the last 14 as president.
Dumars, who played collegiately at McNeese State, was the NBA Executive of the Year in 2003, one season before the Pistons won the league championship. The league’s sportsmanship award is named for Dumars.
Rumors that Dumars either would directly replace Demps or come to the Pelicans in a supervisory position over both Demps and Williams began shortly after Dumars’ departure from the Pistons.
They intensified in January when the Pelicans were 20-21 at the midpoint of the season. Even after the Pelicans made the playoffs for the first time since 2011, reportedly a make-or-break situation for Demps and Williams, they have persisted since the season ended with the team being swept by Golden State in the opening round.
Williams acknowledged last week that he and Demps have not always seen eye-to-eye in personnel decisions and indicated that he answers to Loomis and not Demps when it comes to evaluating assistants.
Demps has not been available since the season ended, opting out of the same media availability in which Williams spoke. Team spokesman Matt Ryan said Wednesday that Demps would speak next week.
Regardless of who is in charge, the team’s top priority in the offseason will be attempting to sign All-Star forward Anthony Davis to a max contract worth at least $140 million that would bind him to the team until 2020-21.
Davis, who just completed his third season and is expected to be a first-team All-NBA selection after finishing fifth in the All-Star balloting, could decline to sign and become a restricted free agent after the 2016-17 season.
The offer cannot be made until July 1 and Davis would have until the end of October to sign.
Six of this season’s roster members are unrestricted free agents, including starting center Omer Asik and power forward Ryan Anderson.
The team does not have a first-round draft pick as a result of the trade with Houston for Asik; it’s second-round pick is No. 56.
The organization structure of the Pelicans has been an unconventional one since 2010 when Williams was hired six weeks before Demps.
Both hires were made by Hugh Weber, who was hired by then-owner George Shinn and continued his post after the NBA bought the franchise from Shinn that year.
When Benson bought the team in 2012, he retained both Demps and Williams, who are 173-221 in their five seasons together.
Benson last week sent a congratulatory letter to Williams, Demps the assistants and the players, praising them from this season’s results while pledging to “bring everything to bear” to win a championship.
The Pelicans finished 45-37 in 2014-15, their first winning season since 2011 and an 11-victory improvement from the year before.
That record was good enough to tie Oklahoma City for the eighth and final playoff berth in the West. The Pelicans advanced by virtue of winning three of four games against the Thunder.
Pondexter has surgery
Forward Quincy Pondexter underwent successful arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Wednesday morning. A timetable for his return to basketball activities will be announced in the near future.
Pondexter was acquired on Jan. 12 in a three-team trade with Boston and Memphis. Appearing in a total of 75 games this season with Memphis and New Orleans, including 28 as starter for the Pelicans, Pondexter averaged 7.2 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 23.9 minutes per game. Pondexter appeared in all four playoff games against Golden State, averaging 7.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists.
Holiday has surgery
Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday underwent successful surgery to remove a screw from a previously placed rod in his lower right leg, the team announced Wednesday. A timetable for his return to basketball activities is not yet determined.
Holiday averaged 14.8 points, 6.9 assists and 3.4 rebounds in 40 games this season.
— Darrell Williams and Scott Kushner contributed to this story.