Critical season approaches for Pelicans’ Demps, Ferry _lowres

New Orleans Pelicans general manager Dell Demps

Associated Press photo by Gerald Herbert

With the sixth pick of the 2016 NBA Draft, the New Orleans Pelican select ...

Well, you’ll have to wait until Thursday to find that out.

And you’ll have to wait until July to see what the Pelicans decide to do in free agency.

General manager Dell Demps wasn’t about to divulge that information Monday in one his rare sessions with the media.

“We prefer not to show our cards,” Demps said. “We feel like we are going to get a good player who’s going to be able to help us.”

But Demps seemed to be pleased with the one offseason acquisition that he made in early June.

That was when Demps hired Danny Ferry as a special adviser.

Ferry, a former NBA player who starred at Duke, was a former general manager of the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Atlanta Hawks.

“I just feel like he’s a smart individual,” Demps said about the hire. “For the last two years, after the incident that happened in Atlanta, he and I have been in constant contact. I have been actually using him as a sounding board. Now we are really just making it official, having him coming aboard with us.”

The incident in Atlanta Demps referred to came in June 2014. That’s when Ferry was on a conference call and read a scouting report that had an offensive comment about Miami Heat guard Luol Deng. Part of the report that Ferry read stated that Deng had “some African in him.”

The Hawks’ looked into the incident and absolved Ferry of any racial or ethnic wrongdoings in the incident. He took a leave of absence from the Hawks in September 2014 and reached a buyout agreement last June.

The incident could have made this a controversial hire. Demps doesn’t think so and said it didn’t make him think twice about bringing Ferry aboard.

“Not to get into specifics, but I have a history with him,” Demps said. “I feel like I know him. I approached ownership and talked to them specifically about Danny, and I thought he was good fit for us.”

Demps and Ferry previously worked together in the San Antonio Spurs organization. At the time, Demps was considering going into coaching, but Ferry and Spurs general manager R.C. Buford talked to him about the business side of basketball.

“(Danny’s) experience, insight and new ideas fit in perfectly with the organization,” Demps said. “We are looking forward to him contributing in helping us obtain our ultimate goal of having sustained success.”

We want to be good for a long time.”

Demps spoke with the media for 18 minutes Monday.

The last question he was asked was this: “For you personally, how critical is this offseason to getting things turned around?”

His response: “I go into all of them feeling like they are critical.”

The real answer probably should have been “extremely critical.”

Demps surely knows that this offseason (and the regular season that follows) is the most important one since he took over as the team’s general manager in 2010.

Ownership hasn’t come out and said it’s now or never, but you have to think it is.

The 2014-15 season provided some hope after the Pelicans reached the playoffs as a No. 8 seed before losing to eventual champion Golden State.

But all of that hope vanished this past season when the team took a step back — well, with all the injuries it was more like a limp back — going a dismal 30-52 and missing the playoffs.

That record was good enough (bad enough) to give the Pelicans the No. 6 draft in Thursday night’s NBA draft.

After the draft comes free agency, which will be just as important. Guys like Ryan Anderson, Norris Cole, Eric Gordon, and Kendrick Perkins will be figuring out where they want to play.

The decisions they make will have a huge impact on the Pelicans’ future.

But the decisions Demps (with some added help from Ferry) makes, will be even bigger.