One thing is definitely apparent as the NBA season dwindles down, the New Orleans Pelicans need to blow things up off the court.
Since rebranding from the New Orleans Hornets to the Pelicans, the organization has failed to be anything beyond average.
Personifying the Stealer Wheelers, the Pellies perpetually sit in the middle to lower bottom of the standings. In four seasons, New Orleans has won 40+ games and qualified for the playoffs once, but haven’t finished below 30 wins. They’re firmly entrenched in basketball purgatory: Not good enough to get out of the first round of the playoffs, but not bad enough to land a top-three pick. Not anywhere a pro sports team wants to be.
Winning in ‘The Big Easy’ has been anything but.
Things were supposed to play out much better. Anthony Davis has, once again, been asked to do too much. Superstars like Davis are rare. New Orleans struck gold in 2012, winning the lottery and selecting the Kentucky standout. A top-three player in the league, Davis’ talents largely goes to waste thanks to poor roster construction.
2016-17 slowly devolved into a shitshow for the Pelicans. Head coach Alvin Gentry is nearly on pace to land his second-straight 50 loss season. With less than 15 games remaining, New Orleans sits 5.5 games back of the Denver Nuggets for the eight-seed in the West. Barring a miracle, the Pelicans will miss the playoffs for a second straight season. Jamming DeMarcus Cousins into the fold midseason hasn’t reshaped dim fortunes. Understandably, ownership is getting tired.
“There’s some feeling in the front office the record being what it is, the writing is on the wall,” the source said. “Might as well make a change in April and start searching. But is that really fair? Can’t you give Dell an offseason to get some shooters, give Alvin some time to remake the offense? They’ve at least got to give this playoff spot a run and that might buy more time. That’s sort of where it stands.”
Unfortunately, Gentry never got the chance to shine in New Orleans. The Pelicans were ravaged with injuries in 2015-16. Davis, Jrue Holliday, Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson and Tyreke Evans all missed extended time on the DL. Rarely having a healthy lineup at his disposal, basically earned a mulligan for the struggles.
2016-17 is a different story.
Under Gentry’s guidance, the Pelicans average the eighth-fewest points in the association, at 103.0. Collectively, the team shoots 44.5 percent – sixth worst leaguewide. They’re also bottom-15 in three-point percentage (35.1 percent) and free throws attempted (22.6). On defense, the difference isn’t made up. New Orleans sports the 17th-rated defense at 105.9 points against per game – a remarkable achievement for what’s supposed to be a defensive-focused team.
Demps’ dumpster diving roster construction further hinders the Pelicans playoff chances.
Picking up Cousins was easily the best move during his tenure as GM, but, his other midseason additions underwhelmed. New Orleans has recently relied on 10-day contracts to fill their starting lineup. Wayne Selden Jr. and Hollis Thompson have both started in March when arguably, neither should be on an NBA roster. The midseason addition of Donatas Montiejunas provided little to no return. Demps misses too much with draft picks when he hasn’t traded them for immediate help. He hasn’t added enough complimentary players to make the Pelicans fly.
So, does Gentry deserved to get fired? Probably not. But, Demps dug a hole big enough for two. Resetting things as Davis approaches his prime is suboptimal. However, the Pelicans aren’t going to win it all with Gentry and Demps leading the charge. Deserved or not, it’s time for a change.