New Orleans Pelicans: How hot should Alvin Gentry’s seat be?

Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images
Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images /
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The New Orleans Pelicans are bound for the draft lottery, mired in Anthony Davis-trade-request-purgatory and ready to reshape their front office this summer. Where does head coach Alvin Gentry fit into all this?

As the New Orleans Pelicans get ready to start the final stretch of the season on Friday night against the Indiana Pacers, the organization clearly has its eye not on a last-ditch effort to push for the playoffs, but in reshaping the organization’s future amidst the coming Anthony Davis trade.

The first shoe to drop in that process was when the Pelicans fired General Manager Dell Demps last Friday as the league was preparing itself for All-Star weekend in Charlotte. As we currently stand, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Gentry is safe.

"For now, 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 … Gentry’s future is likely dependent on the next GM’s purview."

Even though many who’ve paid attention to New Orleans have been expecting Dell Demps to get the ax for some time now, the timing of his dismissal was curious. It is a relief to see the organization didn’t remove Gentry in a knee-jerk reaction, particularly since owner Gayle Benson, the widow of New Orleans billionaire Tom Benson, is so inexperienced with running the show of sports ownership.

Demps unequivocally failed in his responsibility to build a contender, or anything even close to it, around Anthony Davis. Still, firing him days after an awkward trade deadline where Lakers General Manager Magic Johnson accused Demps of not negotiating in good faith gave fodder to the hordes of Laker fans around the country to take potshots at Demps on his way out the door.

Pelicans columnist Scott Kushner cleared up the reality, noting:

Seeing as there are likely more Lakers beat writers in the bathroom at any one time than there are Pelicans writers total, Kushner’s word here is gold.

Of course, it’s only proper for ownership to get someone they have full confidence in to lead the organization through these dark days. However, that begs the question of Gentry’s long-term role in New Orleans, as he has also had a hand in the repeated failures of the past few seasons.

Kushner did echo Woj’s reporting concerning Gentry though, noting that ownership likes him, but will probably leave his fate up to whoever they hire as the next General Manager. In the meantime, Gentry — who has worked for former disgraced Los Angeles Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling and the mercurial Phoenix Suns’ owner Robert Sarver — will finish what he has noted as a “dumpster fire” and the “strangest” thing he’s gone through in his career.

After interim GM Danny Ferry apparently reached an agreement with Anthony Davis over the past few days to continue playing post-ASG, the situation in New Orleans will only get stranger. After all this though, Gentry hopes to remain with the Pelicans coach beyond this season:

Maybe that is an obvious statement, but Gentry could theoretically have any assistant coaching gig he wanted if he were to be fired. That puts the impetus on the Pelicans and Demps’ replacement to determine if Gentry is worthy of continuing.