The Next Free Agent: Dell Demps

Published: July 30, 2012

Jake talks about why the next contract the Hornets should look at is not a player, but General Manager Dell Demps.

We’ve spent much of the offseason speculating about the future of Eric Gordon, whether it is legal, per the CBA, for the Robin Lopez trade to go through, or how much cap space the team has. But we’ve forgotten about the big two remaining free agents the Hornets have.

The man that brought the team together and the man that coaches them: Dell Demps and Monty Williams. I’ll tackle Monty later; right now, we’ll look at Demps.

Extending Demps’ contract should be one of Tom Benson’s top priorities.

If there is anything to learn from the Neil Olshey situation with the Clippers, it is best to be proactive when trying to retain front office talent. The last thing the Hornets need is for Benson to either get cheap with Dell or think that one the Saints personnel can handle the position. The Hornets have one of the brightest GM’s in the league, and they need to do everything they can to hold onto him.

For the past two seasons the Hornets have been mired in instability. Now that they are entering a new period under new ownership and are poised to be a young, rising team there needs to be a cohesive plan to keep things on the upswing.

Stability starts at the top. The owner is now in place, but the first shakeup started with members of Benson’s cabinet taking over key roles in the Hornets organization. Obviously there will be changes with a new owner, that is to be expected, but the man who has been the architect of this still-evolving team is too valuable to replace.

Think of the offseason thus far as an interview for Dell Demps. For the first time he has had the ability to put together the team he wants — there is no star point guard to try and appease; no going-broke owner with cold feet; no lack of an owner with who-knows-what on its at-least-29 minds.

And yet, despite the previously mentioned challenges he’s faced, Demps has fully remade the roster. As I pointed out last week, Demps has mainly done this from one trade to the next. While you may disagree with some of the contracts he’s given out, almost all of his trades have come at the expense of minor assets–mainly 2nd round picks. With the recent acquisition of Lopez you can start to see the end result of his moves. For now. It’s worth noting that nearing the start of Demps’ third season, there is not one player from the 09-10 season on the team anymore.

But of course it is not that simple just to hand him a new contract. There are two main reasons why.

First, there is the big black eye of the Whatever-The-Hell-Happened-Lakers-Trade. Without rehashing all of that, keep these thoughts in mind: At the time of the Lakers trade, there is no way of knowing what form of the Clippers trade was on the table. And, Demps truly believed the team he put together from the Lakers trade would be a contender.

Second, it would be hard for Benson to give Demps a new contract based only on the team he’s assembled. Results do matter, and we’ve yet to see this team play a single game. With a year left on his current deal and, presumably, a team option for the year after that, I doubt we’ll see his deal extended just yet.

And even though Demps has done a great job retooling the roster, don’t think it is set. There are still positions to upgrade and moves to make. And I bet the Chessmaster has a plan in mind.


  1. Mike P

    July 31, 2012 at 12:11 am

    Great article, Jake. I think too much is made of the trade that wasn’t.. Dell didn’t even know if he’d keep his job when ownership transferred. even if he had known the Clippers trade was on the table, it made more sense for him to keep the Hornets relevant. I really hope we keep this guy, and I’m dreading the possibility of Loomis putting one of his guys in charge.

    • Jeff

      July 31, 2012 at 9:14 am

      This point doesn’t get made enough – the chances of the main front office staff keeping their jobs after an ownership change are infinitesimally small, so from Demps perspective he was much better off making a deal that would make the team better immediately. It looks crazy now that we have Anthony Davis, Austin Rivers and Eric Gordon locked up that the Lakers trade was better, but I think most people would agree that at the time, it looked like that deal would get us a definite playoff contending team, plus a few nice assets like Goran Dragic and a first round pick. Yes, we would have been in the dreaded “middle,” but it’s probably too much to ask a GM with no job security to willingly sacrifice an immediate playoff team for lottery chances and future cap flexibility, which would most likely get used by some new GM.

      • Jake Madison

        July 31, 2012 at 9:24 am

        I actually emailed Mike that same point about a week ago: Maybe Dell went with the Lakers trade because of job security.

        But he pointed out that it doesn’t help Dell’s case for an extension if he put his own well being over the best interest of the team.

      • Mike P

        July 31, 2012 at 3:02 pm

        Did Dell really have a choice? It’s one thing if an owner is in his ear, telling him it’s okay to blow up the team and start again. Rumor had it that Dunleavy was going to blow up the front office and put in his own guys if Bhathal had bought the Hornets.

        We all keep saying how it’s clear now that the trade we made is better for us long term. But a lot of things had to happen for us to be where we are right now

        1. Rubio Injury- The Timberwolves went like 5-20 after Rubio went down. If he hadn’t gotten injuried, what would our pick have been? 14-16? Love also sat a lot of the games at the end of the season, though I can’t remember the injury. Concussion?

        2. Gordon Injury- Is there any doubt that we would’ve finished better than Detroit, Sacramento, Golden State, Toronto, and New Jersey if Gordon had played the majority of the season? So instead of us having the fourth lottery spot, we’d be around 9, and possibly lower than that.

        3. Lottery win- We had a 14.8% chance of winning the lottery

        Yeah, in the end we wound up with Anthony Davis, so the trade looks much better, but this was a product of many small chances coming together to give us the best prospect in years

      • Mike

        July 31, 2012 at 4:27 pm

        I’ll add one more point in support: we do not know, and likely will never know, what Demps was going to do with those assets. He is a wheeler and dealer, and he may have had very different thoughts about the opening day roster than what we saw on paper.

      • Jake Madison

        July 31, 2012 at 5:01 pm

        If they go with the Lakers trade, even if the Hornets still somehow lucked into the top pick, they would be without Gordon or Rivers. Those are two key pieces of this Hornets team.

      • Mike P

        July 31, 2012 at 5:17 pm

        Yeah, you’re right. My point was really meant to illustrate that we shouldn’t have even gotten Rivers, much less Anthony Davis. Everything just came together perfectly, and it makes the trade look much better, which is what I as trying to say. But I definitely agree that getting even Gordon/Rivers trumps getting an aging package that wouldn’t have gotten us past the 1st/2nd round of the playoffs. My post is not meant to say that the first package was better. And Mike, yeah, someone on this site or another had said we already had a deal for Odom lined up. So who knows?

  2. hornetshornets

    July 31, 2012 at 12:31 am

    Considering the circumstances, Dell has done a fantastic job of remaking this team from contract locked veterans with no upside to a young core with financial flexibility. However, there comes a time when wholesale changes don’t need to be made and a team has to mature with pieces added more moderately. It will be interesting to see how this team is refined in the next year or so, rather than rebuilt. Pay the man, so we can see his vision fulfilled.

  3. BDavis

    July 31, 2012 at 4:27 am

    I don’t see any reason our front office wont get extensions. Benson bringing his guys over to help smooth over transition was just that….nothing more. U have to understand Benson relies heavily on the people under him and if they take care of business, he takes care of them. Monty and Dell are doing their part.

  4. Mojart

    July 31, 2012 at 7:46 am

    Re-sign Dell demps and coach Monty

  5. Snow

    July 31, 2012 at 8:35 am

    If we don’t re-sign both Demps & Williams, I will be extremely disappointed. Demps has made some great moves and Monty had the team under control last season. Usually with the season like the Hornets last year, the coach loses his whole team, that didn’t happen to Monty. It’d be a good idea to sign them long term Benson! Great article

  6. J

    July 31, 2012 at 8:52 am

    Demps is a moron. Just resign Monty and let Loomis take over.

    • Redhopeful

      August 1, 2012 at 12:46 am

      Is your #1 goal for posting just to rile people up?

  7. LaNative

    July 31, 2012 at 10:30 am

    The trade that didn’t happen was due to the NBA owning the team. Give Demps a lot of credit because he admirably handled the media circus of NBA ownership and CP3’s demand to be traded and David West deciding not to resign. Dell and Monty managed that drama and kept the team inspired and playing with tremendous heart. Athletes can be extremely emotional and immature when it comes to teams, winning and where they want to play. Both he and Monty are highly respected by players. When the dust settled CP3 and David West said that the ownership or the lack thereof was the problem, not the GM or coach. I wanted both David West and CP3 to stay, but in hindsight it was best for the team that they moved on. It would be crazy not to extend Demps or Williams because the franchise is building a culture, an identity as a place where players are cared for. Changing out either of those guys would put the team back in square one. I agree that we must see this team in action but we must also manage our expectations.

    • AlterEgoOfJeffBower

      July 31, 2012 at 10:39 am

      It’s also important to recognize that no one had any reason to expect that the Clippers trade would net the Hornets the #1 and #10 picks in the draft. The drop of the ping pong balls was pure luck, and Demps’ decision to accept the Lakers deal should not be considered with 20/20 hindsight, as if he should have been expected to know Davis and Rivers would be the alternative prize.

    • NOS-3RD GEN

      July 31, 2012 at 6:27 pm

      So if what U say is true then there is a possibility that D.Dub &/or CP3 could come back since it was the ownership that was da problem in the first place. Is that right ?

    • NOS-3RD GEN

      July 31, 2012 at 6:40 pm

      Do anyone else besides me think that in between XMAS and New Years we make an attempt trade for Ricky Rubio since at once ESPN analysis said before he came to the NBA that His game style was like a mixture of CP3 Pistol Pete, & they both played for NEW ORLEANS. I think that would be a great XMAS present from Dell to The Hornets Fans. That would be one of my XMAS wishes this Year.Think about how awesome this team would be if we acquired RICKY RUBIO, And teaming him up with Davis,Gordon,Anderson, & Rivers. Playoff bound youth moment in History .

      • DownUnder

        August 1, 2012 at 4:56 am

        Thats a bit cute

    • teddy schiele

      August 1, 2012 at 9:28 am

      great comment

  8. Kempleton

    July 31, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    Anybody know if they are in London to scout potential international recruits?

    • Mike P

      July 31, 2012 at 7:15 pm

      Monty is definitely there.. was on tv today

      • Andrew Smith

        July 31, 2012 at 11:44 pm

        Dell is definitely not, I was at the opening of a basketball court & he was there

  9. Hornets686

    July 31, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    Next BIG move for Dell…. DRAFT Alex Poythress!!

    I’m jumping on the Alex Poythress ban wagon!

  10. John in MO

    July 31, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    Anthony “Skynet” Davis was 5-5, 2-2, 12pts, 3rebs, 1blk in 14 min against Tunisia. Things are looking up. I would love Dell to be the guy who shapes our perennial contender.

  11. Josh

    July 31, 2012 at 11:08 pm

    I hope that we sign Dell and Monty very soon.

  12. Lucas Ottoni

    August 1, 2012 at 8:01 am

    I think you are overrating Dell Demps. He performed no trade impact, which would bring us an All Star. The best player he got was Eric Gordon, but in return the best player in franchise history. I’ll applaud Dell Demps when he brings players like Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum or Rudy Gay for the Hornets. And then we will form our Big Three. Before that happens, I think his work is just good, far from spectacular. But if he brings back Chris Paul, I will stretch out the red carpet for him. But I don’t believe that happens. Demps need to make an acquisition impact. Without it, I don’t consider his work like outstanding and I see no reason to call him Chessmaster because movements that bring Ryan Anderson, Robin Lopez, Hakim Warrick, Marco Belinelli, Trevor Ariza, Willie Green… He needs to get an All Star!

    • Redhopeful

      August 1, 2012 at 10:39 am

      Seriously? There are so many more facets than just landing a star. Trimming payroll, drafting, working with coach to bring in correct players, yada yada yada. Besides, you realize the costs in bringing in a star? Basically you have to gut the potential youth and commit to a very cumbersome contract. How successful have the teams been that have traded for these stars?

      • Lucas Ottoni

        August 1, 2012 at 10:58 pm

        The Miami Heat tells you something? Who wins championships are the All Stars, and not a team of young guys, especially guys like Robin Lopez, Al-Farouq Aminu, Xavier Henry,… , who will not get anywhere in the NBA.

    • 504ever

      August 1, 2012 at 11:55 am


      Dell has taken chicken $#!T and turned it into chicken salad. He has shipped out junk to get quality backups and quality starters: Smith, Lopez, and Anderson. He has also done it while drastically reducing payroll, decreasing player age, and increasing future sigining flexibility, i.e. the chance to bring in high quality talent in the future. He has done it with a Chessmaster like ability to see several moves ahead.

      As important, your standard of getting an “All Star” player like “Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum or Rudy Gay” has only been met by a handful of GMs. Nearly all of the players you mentioned (and most All Stars) were acquired through the draft LOTTERY, and only one player you mentioned has been acquired outside of draft day (CP3)!

      I’ll tell Dell to buy a rabbit’s foot for you. Oh wait, Dell already won the draft lottery and picked potential superstar Anthony Davis. Why doesn’t that satisfy you? What if Davis develops into an All Star? What if Gordon does? Could it be we have at least two of our future Big Three on the roster right now? If so, how hard will it been to attract Big Three player #3? (We will have the cap space for him in future years.)

      From your post and your avitar, it seems like your dissatisfaction is with Chris Paul for leaving. I suggest that is clouding your vision of Dell.

    • Kempleton

      August 1, 2012 at 1:41 pm

      First of all, When did Dell Demps join us? July 22, 2010. The 2010 draft had already taken place and It had been 22 days since the 2010 summer free agency market opened!

      Summer 2011 was doomed by the lockout. Hornets did not have any draft picks in the first round of 2011 NBA Draft!

      So, How many drafts he had with the Hornets? Only 1! He acquired Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers. And Summer 2012 is the only full summer that he was involved in everything including the draft, the free agency market and the trades.

      How many full summers did Dell Demps spend with the Hornets? I tell you: 1!

      Let us please take those into consideration!

      I think the problem in your argument is not Dell Demps, it is the all-star. Dell Demps did not let Chris Paul leave, Chris Paul wanted to leave! Both him and Monty wanted Chris Paul to stay. Before Dell gets an All-Star, the All-Star wants to be here! It is not something he could handle.

      Yes, a superstar left but now we have another potential superstar in Anthony Davis!

      Besides, I believe we now have another potential all-star in our team: Eric Gordon. Those two are the prizes for Chris Paul.

      Dell Demps added Ryan Anderson to the mix who I believe will have an all-star caliber performance for years !

      And, do not forget that Dell Demps positioned the Hornets in a way that we might sign another potential all-star next summer. We will at least have the cap space to do so. Not enough for a superstar, but enough for an allstar.

      Oh, and don’t forget Austin Rivers. Rivers and Davis was at the top of their high-school class as well as at their fresman college class. Rivers also has the potential to do great things. We should wait and see how great that will be.

      That makes it what, 4? 4 “potential” all-star caliber players. And the cap space created to bring a 5th one next summer. Well, I’ll live with that.

  13. hewhorocks

    August 1, 2012 at 10:55 am

    Well we certainly have a huge upgrade at GM (and coach) over our last pair. I like Monty, Dell seems to be doing well enough so I’m not sure I would risk a change as we’ve seen the downside up close and personal.

  14. da ThRONe

    August 1, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    I haven’t been Demps greatest supporter however I think at this point he has to be resigned. If we were going to replace him the time was immediately after Benson took over. Demps has his fingerprints all over this team at this point. So for better or worse he should see this thing out.

    As for Dell I’m not thrilled about his transactions. Also I can’t look pass the Laker/Rocket deal and I think he miss handled the Gordon situation among others. With that said Demps has proven to be a very competent GM, but I think all the praise is far too premature. I’m reserving my right to wait and see. I don’t see this as a championship core and IMO ultimately that’s what matter the most.

  15. bob

    August 1, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    Prediction…Brian Roberts will not only make the Hornets team
    but will be starting by midseason. At the point. Rivers will struggle
    big time this year.

    • Jordan J.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:19 pm

      Brian Roberts starting LOL

      • bob

        August 1, 2012 at 3:36 pm

        That’s what they said about J.Lin…

    • NOS-3RD GEN

      August 1, 2012 at 10:41 pm

      Whose Brian Roberts? and will he even make the cut? Also I do think Austin Rivers or A-Rive will struggle especially if he starts at PG, but SG I see him as 6 th Man of the year material!!! BELEEVE DAT!!!

  16. john eitmann

    August 4, 2012 at 11:09 am

    dell deserves to get an extension and i would believe that tom benson is smart enough to know that. what an amazing job the front office is doing !! dell eats, sleeps, and dreams basketball. he is as sharp as they come, and we are very fortunate to have him leading our team.

  17. Pingback: Hornets sign GM Dell Demps to multi-year contract extension | New Orleans Hornets |

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