Anthony Davis has requested a trade from the New Orleans. This is not a huge surprise: I wrote two months ago that given the Pelicans' struggles after an eventful, eyebrow-raising summer, it was only a matter of time. The real inflection point would either come when Davis inevitably rejected an enormous contract extension offer in July, or if he made his future plans clear before then. Davis went one step further, not just telling New Orleans to keep their contract offer, but also asking for a trade.
Should the Pelicans grant the superstar's wish? Should New Orleans wait until the summer? Should they hold out even longer and keep Davis through the end of his contract in 2020? That's all debatable. (Well, except for the last question. That would be foolish.)
But this is all putting the hot dog cart before the lunch rush. The first thing the Pelicans need to do in trading Anthony Davis is to fire the guy who drafted him.
Dell Demps is probably a nice man, and he deserved his shot as an NBA GM. He's had some nice moments leading a front office in some of the most difficult conditions in the league. There's no obvious better replacement on deck, no ringer waiting to be hired. All of these factors typically lead to staying the line and keeping everything status quo.
But status quo got the Pelicans to this point. It can't go on into the next era of Pelicans basketball, because this era was a failure.
Demps has been around for the entire Davis era — in fact, Demps was the GM who had to trade Chris Paul in 2011, a decision that directly led to the start of the Davis era. Demps oversaw the CP3 trade to the Lakers that David Stern infamously spiked, as well as the one to the Clippers that eventually went through. Demps led New Orleans to its glorious tank for Davis in the 2012 NBA Draft, and pulled off one of the smarter trades of that time period in moving for Jrue Holiday.
He also swung a big trade for Omer Asik and paid him a ton. And he paid Alexis Ajinca a grip of money. Solomon Hill, too. And he fired beloved coach Monty Williams in 2015 after Williams met the team's playoff ultimatum.
Demps traded for DeMarcus Cousins (good!) and built a team around Davis and Boogie good enough to sweep a No. 3 seed (without Boogie). Then he dismantled that team in about seven days in an absolutely critical summer for Davis' future with the club.
Is Demps a bad GM?
That's irrelevant. Demps has had six years and change with Anthony Davis, and he has one playoff series victory to show for it. In the single most important season of the Pelicans' franchise history — the season that determines whether Davis will seriously consider signing to stay on through his prime or whether he will bounce — Demps' team is six games under .500.
Dell Demps might be a good GM, or he might not be. But this is clear and indisputable: he struck the lottery in 2012 by landing Davis, and he has blown it all. The fans in New Orleans cannot be asked to watch him take the first steps into Take Two.
Before the Pelicans decide what to do about Anthony Davis' trade request, they need to decide who will be making the decisions. It can't be the guy who made the decisions that brought them here.