Despite the 2016-17 season ending in disappointment, the New Orleans Pelicans will not be making big changes heading into next season. The team announced on Monday that general manager Dell Demps and head coach Alvin Gentry will be retained.
Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Mickey Loomis announced the decision on the team’s website. Owner Tom Benson added that the expectations are still high.
— Scott Kushner (@ScottDKushner) May 15, 2017
This is a surprising move, especially as it relates to Demps.
The Pelicans shook up the NBA world during the all-star break when they traded for star center DeMarcus Cousins. Given the strength of teams like the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs atop the Western Conference, nobody realistically thought that it would bring a championship. But given that New Orleans was battling with a fairly unimpressive group of teams for the eighth and final playoff spot in the west, a postseason berth was a realistic expectation.
It did not happen. In fact, it didn’t come close.
The Pelicans finished in 10th place in the Western Conference, seven games behind the Portland Trail Blazers. Granted, the move could pay off in the future as Cousins and Anthony Davis get more acclimated with each other. But a playoff spot was a realistic expectation. Moving backwards was a massive failure.
Gentry is slightly less surprising given that he’s only coached New Orleans for two years. Still, it’s worth noting that Gentry replaced Monty Williams, who had led the Pelicans to two playoff appearances including one in the season before he was let go. In the two subsequent seasons, Gentry has led New Orleans to a combined 64-100 record without a single playoff appearance.
So, if these are the men who are going to fulfill Benson’s stated goal of reaching the playoffs and eventually winning a championship, they both have a long way to go.