Potential candidates for Pelicans general manager opening
Another shoe has dropped, with the New Orleans Pelicans severing ties with longtime general manager Dell Demps.
Now the process begins to replace him, although we do not know what title or overall structure the front office will have post-Demps. I can assure you that there won’t be a shortage of candidates. Front office leadership jobs in the NBA are precious, and no level of national media negativity will change the desire of many to take this job.
The next decision made by the Pelicans, collectively, will be the most important in franchise history. It could either set the organization up to move into the role of an NBA contender or could put the team in a free fall from which they may never recover. This is the same spot that the New Orleans Saints were in 2006 when Sean Payton was hired. The rest is history.
I’ll throw out some names we may hear connected with the job in the coming days, weeks and months.
Shareef Abdur Rahim, 42 years old now, was a standout power forward in the NBA notching over 15,00 points. He was twice an NBA All-Star and won a Gold medal with the U.S. team in the 2000 Olympics. Very intelligent with a 3.8 GPA during him time at Cal-Berkley, Abdur Rahim has an executive background including time as director of player personnel with the Sacramento Kings, five seasons as Kings assistant GM and now President of the NBA’s developmental G League.
Larry Harris, 56 years old, currently serves as assistant GM and director of player personnel for the Golden State Warriors. His father, Del Harris, was a very successful NBA head coach. Larry also had time on the bench as an assistant coach with the Warriors in 2008-09.
Gersson Rosas, executive VP for the Houston Rockets, has been considered for a number of NBA openings. A native Colombian, he fell in love with the sport of basketball at a young age. Well respected in all basketball circles, Rosas served as the GM for the Dallas Mavericks for three months but returned to Houston where he has worked for the Rockets for a total of 18 years.
Mike Zarren, the Boston Celtics assistant GM, is highly regarded throughout the league. He has been heavily involved with the roster movements of his boss Danny Ainge for quite some time. Zarren, a graduate of Harvard Law School, has previously turned down the job with the Philadelphia 76ers so he would not be an easy catch. But he certainly could give New Orleans a leg up in trade negotiations regarding the Celtics and their desire for Anthony Davis.
David Griffin, 45 years old, was GM for Cleveland from 2014 to ’17 but Cavs owner Dan Gilbert chose not to retain him. Many NBA insiders felt Gilbert made a mistake. Griffin made solid moves during his tenure in Cleveland, bringing back LeBron James and acquiring Kevin Love en route to the 2016 NBA title.
Justin Zanik, assistant GM with the Utah Jazz, has handled International scouting and contract negotiations there. His background included extensive experience running a front office. He was an assistant GM for Milwaukee Bucks for three seasons as well, and man expected he was in line to be next Bucks GM. Zanik was the GM for the Indiana Pacers (2008- 2012) and worked as VP at ASM Sports, overseeing career management of players they represented.
Malik Rose, 44 years old., played 13 NBA seasons, winning titles with Spurs in 1999 and 2003. Now the assistant GM for Pistons, Rose was previously named G League basketball executive of the year while with Erie Bayhawks in 2017. Overall experience is a bit of question mark so the interview process would be vital for Rose, who earned his NBA keep as a hard-nosed player at power forward.
Tommy Sheppard, 49 years old, is the Washington Wizards VP of basketball operations. Having served 14 seasons in Wizards organization and 23 overall years in NBA, he has experience with salary cap management, negotiations, training camp organizing, draft preparation and talent evaluation of both college and pro basketball. Sheppard played college football at New Mexico State.
Trajan Langdon, 42 years old, is currently the Brooklyn Nets assistant GM. Before that, he was Director of administration and basketball operations for the Cavs and a scout for Spurs (2012-’15). As a player, the Alaskan Assassin set a record for 3 point shooting (later broken by JJ Redick) while at Duke. A first round pick for the Cavs in 1999, Langdon sent 1999-’02 in Cleveland before playing overseas. He was talented enough athlete to be drafted by the San Diego Padres of MLB in sixth round. He has interviewed for some GM openings in the NBA recently.
Brain Wright, 36 years old, is the San Antonio assistant GM. He has a great passion for scouting and been known to uncover talent around the world. Maybe a little soon for him in his career to be a GM, Wright may have a mix of both good and bad working for and against him if seeking the job with the Pelicans – Dell Demps and Sam Presti came out of Spurs front office.
Trent Redden, 36 years old, is currently the L.A. Clippers assistant GM. He was Cleveland’s senior VP of basketball operations before that and witnessed the highs and lows of Cavs basketball. Redden was given release from Cleveland when the aforementioned David Griffin was also let go.
Troy Weaver, Oklahoma City VP of basketball operations, has spent seven years with the Thunder as VP and assistant GM. He was also Director of Player Personnel for the Jazz.
Some of these potential candidates have received long looks and gone through numerous interviews with teams searching for their front office leadership change in the recent past. All make sense as part of the starting point in New Orleans to find the right fit.
Other names will surface, but this list is certainly a good starting point.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, Rene Nadeau has been involved in sports ever since his earliest memories. Rene played basketball, wrestled, ran track, and was an All-District running back in football at John F. Kennedy High School. He went on to be a member of the LSU football program, developing a passion for the game in even…