Demps had been Pelicans GM for nine years, which included three trips to the playoffs — and advancing only once past the first round.
Former Cleveland Cavaliers and Atlanta Hawks GM Danny Ferry, a consultant for the Pelicans, and assistant GM David Booth are candidates to become interim GM, league sources said.
For now, coach Alvin Gentry and his staff are safe, sources said. The organization has been pleased with how he’s navigated the team under difficult circumstances this year, and he’s expected to finish out the season, sources said.
Gentry’s future is likely dependent on the next GM’s purview. Gentry signed a contract extension in the offseason.
New Orleans owner Gayle Benson has been angry over the Davis trade demand and her belief that “outside forces” are trying to push the franchise into decisions that don’t make sense for it, league sources said.
Her mandate has been to “take back control from outside forces,” one league source told ESPN. Benson has been adamant with the organization to find a pathway to sustainable winning in one of the league’s smallest markets, and plans to be aggressive in pursuing the best available candidates to oversee basketball operations, league sources said.
Among preliminary possible candidates, league sources tell ESPN: former Cleveland GM David Griffin.
Benson owns the Pelicans and New Orleans Saints, and had Demps reporting to Saints GM Mickey Loomis. The Pelicans are eager to conduct a search that will attract a top basketball executive who’ll take on a more prominent role in the franchise. Benson is promising to pursue a top-level GM to revitalize a franchise that’s coming to a crossroads with the Davis trade.
Davis can become a free agent in July 2020, but publicly demanded a trade on Jan. 28. The Pelicans refused to negotiate with the Lakers, who made offers in hopes of landing Davis prior to the Feb. 7 deadline.
The Pelicans have endured a succession of trades and missed draft picks that have depleted the roster of a sustainable path to long-term success.
The team is 26-33 after beating the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night, but is six games behind the LA Clippers for the final Western Conference postseason spot.