Dell Demps is disappointed but not despondent.
On Friday, the New Orleans Pelicans general manager made his first public comments since the start of training camp, addressing concerns surrounding the team’s 12-26 start entering Friday’s home game against Charlotte.
Demps declined to speak with local reporters, instead choosing to join the franchise’s in-house “Black and Blue Report” podcast hosted by Pelicans radio play-by-play announcer Sean Kelley.
In nearly 12 minutes of comments, Demps touched on a variety of issues but declined to divulge whether the Pelicans were on the precipice of significant roster moves or admit any mistakes were made this offseason in building the team.
“I think it starts with disappointment,” Demps said. “Obviously we faced adversity. I wish things were different. I wish we had played better in certain instances. I think the main thing for us has been inconsistency.”
The uneven performances have come from every realm of the on-floor product but are highlighted by effort. Coach Alvin Gentry has often called into question his team’s willingness to play hard, resulting in some bizarre losses and head-scratching postgame news conferences.
Demps wouldn’t go as far as Gentry has, claiming the team has battled hard on many nights, but he did admit some of the off nights have been “alarming” and caused unnecessary setbacks. He also pinned some of the struggles to an injury-plagued roster at training camp, which placed up to six Pelicans on the injury report in the season’s opening weeks.
“When we became healthy, you’d like to have caught fire and hoped the ball would have been rolling, but it didn’t happen,” Demps said. “We have shown flashes of what the potential of this team can be, but then we have these setbacks and obstacles we run into, and that’s disappointing.”
Even as the Pelicans remain near the bottom of the Western Conference standings, Demps expressed hope they could get back into the playoff chase and “make a push,” but he said he’s also keeping an eye on the future.
Sources confirmed to The Advocate that Demps has participated in trade discussions involving several of the Pelicans’ key contributors — as nearly every general manager does — but he hasn’t pulled the trigger on any moves.
Forward Ryan Anderson and shooting guard Eric Gordon are on the final years of their contract, but Demps diminished the value of expiring deals, claiming they were more prominent trade chips 10 years ago than they are today.
“We are working right now, and we will do what’s needed to get this team on track,” Demps said. “Obviously we have dug ourselves a deep hole, and it’s going to be tough for us to fight back into it this year, but we’re always looking for the long term as well as the short term. We haven’t given up on the season.”
“People always ask about trades, ‘Are you’re going to make a trade, or you are going to do something on the short term?’ We’ve got to do something that makes sense. We can’t just make a trade to make a trade. We just can’t get rid of a guy and bring back lesser talent or (a make a move that) is going to make the team deficient. So we’re looking right now, but we’ve got to be smart and make sure we’re looking at the right things.”
Gentry said the Pelicans’ issues are fairly typical, trying to balance the present and the future in not only making off-court moves but also on-court adjustments.
“You have to look at our situation here with a brand new coach and brand new system,” Gentry said. “It’s something none of the guys have ever done before, and I’m asking some guys to play completely different. So, it takes time for all of that to mesh together, come together and be exactly what you want it to be.”