Dear Mr. B,
So you’re not selling the Saints and/or the Pelicans.
Good for you. You didn’t get to be the richest man in Louisiana by making bad decisions.
And may you be declaring the same thing 20 years from now.
But if you do intend to continue in your unique position of owning both NFL and NBA franchises in the same city, it’s time for some major decisions on both fronts.
Your Saints are a hot mess of uncertain direction that has led to them being 6-9 (with six of the losses to teams that had a losing record at the time) going into Sunday’s finale at Atlanta, with no playoffs for the third time in four years.
Hopefully there will be at least some clarity in the coming days. But changes were promised after last season, and they haven’t exactly worked out
Woe to all involved if you don’t get it right this time.
Your Pelicans haven’t completely crossed into hot-mess territory. But artificially high expectations and an injury-plagued coaching transition have made this a season that likely will go down as a wasted one for one of the best players in the NBA.
Anthony Davis is too smart to express his frustrations in public yet. You certainly don’t want to see this situation continue beyond 2016.
Another thing you certainly don’t want to see again is another half-empty Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
As incredibly loyal as Saints fans have been, they can be turned off by continued losing as quickly as anyone else. And that makes it very easy to stay home on Sunday.
You’ve seen that with the Pelicans since you purchased the team almost four years ago now. And you don’t have the emotional attachment for the Saints going for you with your basketball team.
Above all, have a special sense of urgency about things. They won’t get better on their own.
With that in mind, and even though there’s no shortage of free advice for you out there, here’s some more:
1. Resolve Sean Payton’s situation.
Payton says he sees himself as your coach long beyond this season. If that’s what he wants — and if it’s what you want — declare that you are not interested in any trade offers.
If not, make a deal that’s to the greatest advantage of your team — a couple of starters, a couple of high draft picks. Just don’t let it linger.
2. Give Mickey Loomis a new job.
You’ve always had an affinity for Mickey because of his acumen with money. But nobody’s ever pretended that he’s a top football talent evaluator, and Loomis himself downplays his involvement on the basketball end of things.
Use his talents to the utmost, then, although you already have an able president in Dennis Lauscha to handle the business side of things.
Jeff Ireland is a natural choice to be made a true general manager. Ireland’s first draft has fared well enough. But if he’s also responsible for signing Brandon Browner, C.J. Spiller and Dannell Ellerbe, then you might want to look elsewhere.
3. Make Drew Brees a Saint for life.
No. 9’s value to your franchise has never been more evident than it was Sunday. In a week when he could have begged off playing to spend more Christmas time with his kids and nobody would have questioned the decision, Brees toughed it out, throwing for 412 yards and three touchdowns in the victory against Jacksonville.
Extend his contract to make his salary cap hit more palatable and assure him that you want him to retire a Saint rather than in some unfamiliar uniform — and then, if he wishes, keep him within your organization in whatever capacity suits him best.
4. Have the Pelicans make a bold move.
The idea was to go with the core from last year and then make decisions going forward at season’s end.
But it’s obvious that Alvin Gentry is finding Tyreke Evans as difficult to coach as Monty Williams did.
But Evans does have trade value. You’d probably have to deal Ryan Anderson to get a legitimate impact player or players, plus perhaps a draft pick in return, and it could put you into luxury-tax territory.
So be it.
While Dell Demps’ plan for the future was a sound one, it’s obvious you don’t have the right combination for what Gentry wants to do, and you have at best a .500 team.
A trade might ignite a playoff push. If not, at least the pathway to the future has been established.
And while you’re at it, it’s time to start building through the draft as well.
5. Make your executives more available.
Loomis and Demps rarely address the media or the public. While access on a regular basis would be nice, we understand how teams these days want to control their own message.
Fine. But fully explaining things — such as the firing of Williams — would erase many of the public’s doubts about the direction of both franchises.
And, if you’re up to it, we’d like to hear from you, too.
Until then, Happy New Year to you and Miss Gayle.