COMMENTARY | On Friday, November 16, New Orleans Hornets GM Dell Demps agreed to a multiyear contract extension to stay in the Big Easy. The deal comes on the heels of Hornets head coach Monty Williams also recently signing an extension. Williams and Demps came to New Orleans together, so I am not surprised at this development.
With a real owner and a new lease, two of the most important people within the organization now feel secure enough to make long-term commitments to New Orleans. Clearly, Tom Benson is pleased with the Hornets' direction under GM Dell Demps. But is Dell Demps an elite NBA GM?
It goes without saying that the biggest blemish on Dell Demps' GM resume in New Orleans is matching Eric Gordon's max contract with the Phoenix Suns. Since being traded to the Hornets, Gordon has missed 65 of 74 games. For that production, New Orleans now owes its disgruntled, injury-prone shooting guard $58 million over the next four years.
But to be honest, I can't place the blame for the Gordon signing solely of the shoulders of Dell Demps. When a team agrees to pay someone $58 million, it is clearly an organization decision, not just the GM's. Dell Demps, Tom Benson, Mickey Loomis, Monty Williams, and others had to be in agreement on Eric Gordon to match that contract.
Some Hornets' fans have also questioned Dell Demps' drafting of Austin Rivers. But people need to realize there isn't the glut of talent in the NBA Draft that is available in the NFL Draft. There were others whom I would have preferred over Rivers. But by the time it was New Orleans' turn to draft, they had all been taken.
When you look at how badly Chris Paul and David West wanted out of New Orleans and how miserable Eric Gordon is playing for the Hornets, you realize how difficult of a task GM Dell Demps has attracting free agents to the Big Easy. That's why Demps needs to execute brilliant trades and make wise draft selections to build New Orleans' roster.
Time will tell how the drafting of Austin Rivers and Darius Miller work out for New Orleans. But GM Dell Demps could be indicted for burglary for trading Gustavo Ayon to the Orlando Magic for Ryan Anderson. Ayon was one of my favorite Hornets last year, but Anderson is a star. This year, Ayon is averaging 2.0 points and 2.6 rebounds per game while Anderson is averaging 16.4 points and 8.0 rebounds per game.
However, Dell Demps' greatest move as Hornets GM was hiring Monty Williams. For Demps to recognize how great of a head coach Williams would be for the Hornets proves he is a quality GM. Williams possesses a rare combination of toughness, NBA playing experience, and being young enough to relate to the players.
Like the young Hornet players, the jury is still out on Dell Demps as GM. But Tom Benson clearly sees that Demps has done a fine job so far as GM in New Orleans and he was wise to extend his contract to keep him with the Hornets. Although Dell Demps is not an elite NBA GM at the moment, my opinion on this matter could change in three years when the Hornets are contending for an NBA title.
Patrick Michael was born in New Orleans and currently resides in the Big Easy. A loyal New Orleans NBA fan, Patrick was a diehard New Orleans Jazz fan and now cheers for the Hornets. Patrick was in attendance the night the Hornets were one win away from the Western Conference Finals. Follow Patrick Michael on Twitter at patmichael84.
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- Eric Gordon