Dell Demps, Pelicans GM, Denies Reported Friction with Head Coach Alvin Gentry

Mike Norris@@MikeNorrisBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 25, 2016

New Orleans Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry reacts during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Oklahoma City Thunder Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)
Jonathan Bachman/Associated Press

To say the New Orleans Pelicans' 2015-16 season has been a disappointment is an understatement.

Following three straight seasons in which it improved its win total and a playoff appearance last year, the team lost 11 of its first 12 games and entered Friday with a 26-45 record, 8.5 games out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Earlier this week, star forward Anthony Davis announced, via Justin Verrier of ESPN.com, that he had played with a partially torn labrum for the past three years, which definitely raised some eyebrows. After also experiencing pain in his left knee, and subsequently having surgery, the Pelicans shut Davis down for the rest of the season.

Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical then reported that Pelicans general manager Dell Demps had second-guessed head coach Alvin Gentry during the season. However, according to Justin Verrier of ESPN.com, Demps refuted the assertion Friday.

"I just want to say, my confidence in Alvin has not wavered," Demps said. "The only regret that I have is that our team is not at full strength. And Alvin hasn't had the opportunity to coach the team at full strength. I think he's done a fantastic job."

Demps didn't stop there, going out of his way to praise the first-year head coach, per Verrier:

I told [Gentry] this last week: I think our guys are playing hard. Last night was a great example of how hard our guys played and competed. All the credit goes to Alvin and the coaching staff. I think our guys are still getting better, I think guys are showing up and working every day, and they're buying in.

I'm thrilled with the system, I'm thrilled with everything that's happened. And I think it's irresponsible reporting for someone to come and say something like that. Because it's totally untrue.

Gentry, who has three years left on a four-year, $13.7 million contract, said he expects to be back in New Orleans next season, per Verrier.

"Yeah, I do. I do," Gentry said. "I don't have any doubt about that. I'll be back, and we'll be much better because we'll be much healthier."

No one expected the Pelicans to be the Golden State Warriors, but the way this season has panned out is disappointing. Injuries to Davis, Tyreke Evans and others didn't help, but they are part of the game.

Demps doesn't seem to be mincing any words, and he likely does have confidence in the veteran Gentry. However, next year will be key. If the team is healthy and the record doesn't improve, Gentry could be looking for a job two years earlier than expected.

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