Q&A with Pelicans GM Dell Demps heading into NBA Draft
Pelicans GM Dell Demps offers a glimpse into franchise mindset ahead of the NBA Draft.
By JENNIFER HALEFS Southwest
Pelicans GM Dell Demps offers a glimpse into franchise mindset ahead of the NBA Draft:
" I have got to tell you I have my poker face on. As they say, loose lips sink ships. At this time of year it's just tough to reveal too many things. I'd love to tell all of the fans what we're trying to do and what our goals are that we're trying to accomplish but there's always that fear that other teams will jump on the Internet, read my quotes and try to beat us to the punch."
On point guard depth and working out multiple point guards:
"We only had one workout, and the main reason we only had one workout is that it's hard to get guys to come work out for you. Guys that think they are top two or three picks don't want to work out for a team with the sixth pick and guys that are projected to be taken eighth through twelfth don't think you're going to take them so they don't want to waste their time. We were prepared for that and this year we went in to the college and international seasons thinking, let's prepare as though we won't be able to get anyone to work out. Let's make sure we do all our work, go see guys live, do our interviews and do our background and be prepared for the draft. That's how we feel right now."
On whom the Pelicans worked out or interviewed:
"Yeah, Ben McLemore was here on Sunday, Michael Carter-Williams, Trey Burke and Alex Len (worked out). I traveled to meet Victor Oladipo and Anthony Bennett. We interviewed the remaining guys at the pre-draft camp in Chicago. Sometimes it's a little difficult, because at the camp you put your requests in but the whole league is as well, sometimes you get the guys you request and sometimes you do not."
On trade scenarios and other team's making potential trades:
"We are looking at every option. To answer your question I don't know if it (other team trades) changes our strategy because you can't control that. Sometimes the price is too high to move up. I don't anticipate us doing much prior to the draft, but you never know."
On Pelicans specific trades:
"I don't like to speculate or reveal trade talks or conversations that I've had. That's not a good thing to do."
On Pelicans interview process:
"You know you want to get to know them (the prospects). We don't really have any crazy questions. Sometimes we ask the guys, "What's going on in your other interviews?" We really want to see what type of people we're bringing to New Orleans to represent this team, this city and get a good feel for them. Sometimes it's refreshing to talk to guys you've been watching play for three or four years and get to know them. Sometimes we'll put some video on and ask them questions about the game or what they are thinking. Sometimes we'll put video of us on and our plays and sets and say "Hey, what do you see here? Or what do you think about this?" Sometimes you interview guys and they can tell you everything about the team. There was one player that we interviewed that I think went on Wikipedia. He was telling us all about the Pelicans and the Hornets and how the team went to Oklahoma City and came from Charlotte, it was pretty fun. Some guys come to interviews a little more prepared and they know all about you and some guys come in saying they didn't watch much. Each guy is different. We've been doing this for a number of years now and the key is just to see how those lines of communication would be moving forward and getting to know them, asking questions and seeing if they think they're the same type of player that you think you are. Sometimes you interview a guy thinking he's a point guard and he thinks he's a center. That hasn't really happened but you get the point."
On Pelicans greatest area of need:
"I don't know if we get the greatest area of need in the draft. A lot of it depends on who is available at that pick. For us, we want to get a player who will fit. In today's game a lot of guys are interchangeable so I don't know if we can just say we want this position or this guy, I think you want to get a piece that can fit in to your system and help you win basketball games."
On small forward availability in the draft:
"I don't want to get in to any details of the attributes of them or of a specific position. I do think this is a draft where you have a number of guys who are ready to help you right now and you have a number of guys who are going to help you along the line a couple of years from now. That's the big question, are you going to get a guy that helps you right away or are a guy that takes a little longer?"
On what type of player the Pelicans will select:
"We don't know who is going to be there at six. There's a chance it'll be a guy that can help us right away or there's a chance it'll be a guy that will help us down the line.
On uncertainty of this draft:
"The question is, I would say 90 percent of the teams do this, if you're picking six you say I know for sure I'm going to get one of these six guys. You rank them and you say this is who I'm going to get. For us, if one of those guys is ready to play now that's great and if he's going to take a little time that's great as well too. We think that there are a number of guys that can come in here and help us become a better basketball team.
On Anthony Davis influencing decisions this summer regarding the draft and free agency:
"You want to make sure, with Anthony and the remainder of the core guys, that you put pieces around (them). You try not to duplicate and you try to get players that can complement each other."
On Anthony Davis being a transcendent talent you build around:
"Like I said, you try not to duplicate. You try to get someone that can complement him and some of the other pieces we have. I think we have some other good pieces as well and I think our core guys are at a young age right now. I think they're about to reach their peak time as NBA players, and we want to put other pieces around them so we can be successful."
On who on the Pelicans roster is "untouchable" moving forward:
"I think you never really get into anyone with the word untouchable. I try to stay away from that word. I think if there is an opportunity that presents itself that we feel as a group can make the team better, we are going to go after it. I think we are a pretty aggressive group. This time of year there is a lot of talk among teams. Sometimes teams are just throwing things out there, and sometimes they're serious. What we plan to do is look at everything, find out what is real and if there is an opportunity to make us better, especially for the long haul, we'll take that opportunity.
On Nerlens Noel injury affecting draft stock:
"I don't like to talk about specific players. I just don't talk about specific guys going into the draft. Like I said, I never want to tilt my hand and I want to make sure I'm always being respectful."
On the pressure on number six pick this year, as compared to Anthony Davis last year:
"Some guys are ready to play in this league sooner than others. The guys are just coming into the NBA so much younger now. Some guys will be more ready, while some you will have to wait until further down the line. I think a lot of times you don't really know until training camp or the season starts. There might be a guy that you think is ready to play right now that actually isn't. We're not going to put that pressure on that pick, whoever it is, to make them think that they have to come in right now and save the day."
On free agency process:
"We've been on that process since last summer. Now it's getting close, and whenJuly 1st comes we'll get an opportunity to go out there and see what is available, what is real and what guys you can get to come here. I think the draft may impact that a little, but when July 1st comes there will be a little more clarity."
On the value of a draft pick based on year and talent:
"I think a combination. If a situation presented itself where we could deal a pick and get a player that we feel is going to help us for a long period of time, we would do that. What we try to stay away from is dealing a pick and getting someone who is going only going to help you for the short term. That's where it gets a little risky. You have to make that assessment. You have to put all the combinations together, and we value draft picks obviously. The higher you are, usually the better the player comes out. We look at them as assets. If you were to walk in our offices right now, you would see all these type of combinations. Most of the time those things don't come to fruition. Most of the time you make that selection."
On whether impulsiveness plays a role in trades with balancing winning now versus the long term:
"It's tough, because sometimes if you can get something that can help you right away you think about that. Sometimes maybe you draft a player that doesn't turn out to be a player that you want him to be and you pass up on (a potential trade). I think you have to weigh it all together when you make that decision. Sometimes you can make a trade and get a player with the thought process being, 'Hey, you're going to be here for two or three years and hopefully things go great so you will want to stay here,' and you resign him."
On desire to acquire a second pick in the draft:
"I think there are some very good players that are going to be available throughout the draft, including the second round. History shows that the probability sometimes gets lower, but I think there are going to be some good players that are going to be available late in the first and even in the second round."
On pursuit of an additional pick:
"If something comes available and there is a guy there that we have targeted then we would look at it, but only if there is a guy that we have targeted available."
On coaching vacancies entering the draft:
"I haven't been in that situation. It's interesting. I think a number of teams have hired new general managers and with the draft upcoming sometime you don't have the time to get the coach in (before the draft). Sometimes you get the coach in real quick (right before the draft). I think both situations are tough. I think only one or two teams don't have coaches right now, Boston and Philadelphia. I think everyone else has a coach right now. It will be interesting to see what those teams do."
On whether that adds instability to the draft:
"No. I think the management of organizations has been doing their homework and has a good feel for their teams and their cultures."
On a potential replacement for former assistant general manager Tim Connelly?
"I've had a number of people call and we've been looking around, but at this time of year things are just moving so fast. We have talked to some people, but things have been moving so fast right now with the draft and free agency coming up next week I don't know if we'll be able to do that in time."