New Orleans Pelicans General Manager Dell Demps was admittedly tight-lipped Tuesday as he made himself available to the media heading into Thursday’s NBA draft.
League rules dictate some of that. The other part was Demps not wanting to tip his hand to other general managers.
The Pelicans, however, have all but put the wraps on their draft preparation.
“Sunday, we met with (Kansas guard Ben) McLemore,” Demps said. “We traveled (last week) to meet with (Indiana guard Victor) Oladipo and (UNLV forward Anthony) Bennett.”
Michigan point guard Trey Burke, the college Player of the Year, and Syracuse point guard Michael Carter-Williams worked out two weeks ago for the Pelicans, and Maryland center Alex Len interviewed with the basketball operations staff and coach Monty Williams that day.
The consensus is the Pelicans need a small forward. There’s been much speculation concerning the player, and his position, who the Pelicans will pick when their turn comes at No. 6. Demps has said he thinks teams will pick according to need, but said Tuesday that position is not so important.
“I don’t know if we’ll get the greatest area of need in the draft,” he said. “A lot will depend on who is available at that pick. For us, we just want to get a player that will fit.
“I think in today’s game now, a lot of guys are interchangeable, so I don’t know if you can just say it’s this position or this guy. I think you just want to get a piece that fits, that you can put into your system and help you win basketball games.”
Demps said, even amid all the myrid styles of players and their attributes and ways of helping teams, for the Pelicans, it comes down to two things.
“This is a draft where you have a number of guys who are ready to play right now,” he said, “and there are a number of guys who will help you a couple of years from now. That’s the big question: Are you going to get a guy who can help you right now or take a little longer?”
Demps said he doesn’t know what type of player the Pelicans will select because he doesn’t know who will be available. On Tuesday, Demps said the Pelicans could go either way, although Williams has said he’d like to choose someone more ready to play. The team already has many young players at its core, Williams said, and that requires a lot of teaching and patience.
Demps said the Pelicans have narrowed the field concerning who they think will be available. That is still a handful of players, given the nature of this draft, which is unpredictable because of injuries to top players and the age of the prospects these days.
Also, players do not like to work out, feeling a bad performance by, say, the No. 2 player, for example, against No. 25 can be costly, Demps has said.
The Pelicans certainly will pick a player who complements power forward Anthony Davis, last year’s overall No. 1 pick in the NBA draft.
“You want to make sure that with Anthony and the remaining core guys that you put pieces around there,” Demps said. “You try not to duplicate, and you try to get players who can complement each other.”
As far as a trade, Demps said he doesn’t consider any player untouchable, although it would be hard to fathom that not applying to Davis. Demps said teams receive a lot of calls this time of the year, and that if there’s anything real that can help the Pelicans, he’d look at it.
With the Pelicans having only their first-round pick this year, he said he would not be against trying to get back in the draft in the second round.
“I think there’s some very good players who will be available throughout the draft, including the second round,” Demps said. “If something becomes available, and a guy we’ve targeted is there, we’ll look at it. But only if a guy we’ve targeted is available.”