Temperature Rising for Pelicans Staff

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Published: May 22, 2017

The New Orleans Pelicans have officially affirmed that the contracts in place with Alvin Gentry and Dell Demps in fact remain contracts and that they continue doing the work that they are contracted to do. They felt the need to affirm this after many writers and fans had trouble a) digesting the fundamental nature of contracts, b) have some sort of issue with businesses thinking through options, c) are confused by a business not sending mixed messages to its own staff.

The Pelicans share key personnel with the New Orleans Saints. The nature of this relationship also confuses people more than is necessary. The Saints and the Pelicans, regardless of that confusion, keep a tight rein on their messages. Some of this I have taken exception to (including some public exception which has netted me some cold shoulders, which I’m sure me pointing out will get me more cold shoulders . . . of course, I’ve never been told that I’m incorrect . . . I’m just somewhere between inconvenient and infuriating), but some of it is simply good business. Mason and Jake have pointed this out on numerous occasions, too.

Now we see a good reason to possibly explain their hesitation to casually respond to inquiries about the staff: Pack is reportedly out and Chris Finch is expected to be in. Now, maybe there are more moves, and maybe the move doesn’t happen. Don’t count your eggs before they hatch or when the first one hatches. If it comes to pass, even with no other moves, it’s a clear sign that brass is taking the offense issues seriously. This is something, I think, that was driving the misguided hunger for high-profile heads on the New Orleans staff. What has been come to be called “accountability” but is more like “punishment” is in high demand these days, but cooler heads need to prevail.

I’m not going to pretend to be a Chris Finch expert like others who just read the same things you can read then mistake that for expertise (something you and I are not doing, fair reader), but I can tell you what I like. This guy seems to have set up a team-first culture, and he got a team to play very well offensively before the season’s end and doing so through creative use of big men. New Orleans is a big man bonanza, and this has to be a factor in both creating the need for New Orleans to bring in a guy with those capabilities and the attraction of New Orleans to such a talent.

This is one reason the Boogie move was, to use the word I used the night of the trade, seismic. The ground has moved, shifted. All the natural tendencies in the landscape have to be re-explored, because very little pre-Boogie could be taken for granted. Talent attracts talent, lack of talent repels talent (which appears as if lack of talent attracts lack of talent), and there has to be a critical mass for those things to take hold. New Orleans has likely reached that critical mass or may soon. I’m sure other staffs would like to have Finch, and I’m sure there are other places he might want to be, but New Orleans put itself on the list because they had the need and the talent on the court to make the new addition shine. After all, rational self-interest is nearly ubiquitous.

Still, this is not all roses. The Boogie trade was partially rooted in desperation. Risks have to be taken in all businesses, despite what bad analysts will tell you, and many teams were not willing to take what they saw as a risk in Cousins. I think the risk is overstated, and recent history bears that out, but the sample is also small. After the pick officially conveyed to Sacramento, the deal was complete, and the only things left to see are how Boogie works out, if he re-signs, and if the team can get Davis to sign that veteran deal.

These changes are certainly good . . . Boogie, Finch . . . but it’s also the end of the line. This has to work for Dell and Gentry. If this season starts poorly, I think regardless of externalities, we’ll see Demps removed from his position. This team needs to look like a lock for the playoffs from early on. This is not record-worshipping. The playoff outlook depends on the rest of the West, quirks of the schedule, and more. There’s always and adjustment period, too. However, if play that is not obviously good (to casual fans) is combined with any locker room turmoil, you’ll see an early departure. Gentry should last longer as he may in fact be able to put a better product on the floor than the assistants, but he could go, too. Sending out Demps will be a big advertisement to all, and it’ll be an advertising the power that was not available in prior searches. Going in to next offseason, they’ll have to offer the keys to the kingdom and the bank account to get someone here capable of getting Davis to re-sign. Or, they blow it all to smithereens, and I don’t think you do that without the right person in place and someone under contract to trot out to keep the casual fans around.

Someone’s going to be retorting with “Loomis” here, to which I say, “You clearly don’t understand the situation.” As such, I won’t address you. Everyone has a boss, and Loomis is really out of the day-to-day by design and for the good of all.

Still, the message of the Finch hire is manifold. All the good stuff is true, and I personally think the signs point to the Pelicans being able to really do some damage next season (we’ll have to look at the offseason in the West to really get a feel of how much), but there could be second-round potential there if they get it together. But, the more good parts brought together this offseason, the more the pressure to succeed there will be, and it’ll tighten that tight rein.

Something is going happen, and just what it will be should apparent very quickly.

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