Well, when Pelicans owner Tom Benson last week pledged last week to do everything it takes to bring an NBA championship to New Orleans, he meant it.
Although Monty Williams managed to coax a playoff season out of a team with one superstar and an oft-injured supporting cast, the people in charge of the franchise – Mickey Loomis, team president Dennis Lauscha and general manager Dell Demps, must have come to the determination that Williams was not the person to get them there.
That’s a harsh judgment, and to many will seem unfair especially given the good feelings engendered by the Pels’ first playoff appearance in four years and the first under Benson’s ownership.
Monty’s a good man – not just on the basketball end of things but as a person.
But NBA teams frequently make changes after good seasons – and often they pay off. Case in point: the Warriors fired Mark Jackson last year after a 50-win season and under Steve Kerr Golden State was the winningest team in the league this year.
As much as anything though, this move comes after a Pelicans seasons when there were rumors – and even a few public comments – that indicated Demps and Williams did not agree on personnel decisions that Demps was making.
Those disagreements apparently finally reached the point that the two men could no longer work together.
For a time last week it appeared that Joe Dumars would be brought in to take over Loomis’ role overseeing basketball operations. It didn’t happen, though reportedly because Dumars felt it was better to see if the situation could resolve itself.
It didn’t though, and Demps, whose job was supposedly on the line more than Williams, emerged as the survivor.
So now the team is looking for a new coach.
Chicago Coach Tom Thibodeau, supposedly having his own troubles with the Bulls management, will be a top name, even though his team has as good a chance as any to win the title.
Kentucky Coach John Calipari will also be on the list of possibilities.
He was Anthony Davis’ college coach and was an NBA head coach himself, albeit not too successfully.
It’ll take a ton of cash to lure Cal, but he’s given hints that the pressure of being expected to win the NCAA championship every year – the one with Davis in 2012 was his only one – is getting to be a bit much.
Whoever the new coach is, being acceptable to Davis, especially with the max-contract offer going on the table July 1, will be paramount.
Interesting times ahead, folks.