How Danny Ferry Can Reverse Course on the Pelicans’ Future


The New Orleans Pelicans have announced the hiring of former Hawks GM Danny Ferry as a Special Advisor. His record of foresight and judgement will be invaluable for an otherwise misdirected organization.

As it is, Danny Ferry is an interesting guy.

He’s 6’10”, he’s probably been the smartest guy in 90% of the rooms he walks into, and he’s a huge bully. He knows exactly what to do, and he knows the right way to do it.

At the same time, he isn’t interested in listening to alternative opinions or humoring people he doesn’t respect.

He’s the kind of person who demands 100% control, and will reward you if you’re smart enough to give it to him.

He agreed to become GM of the Hawks because he was promised complete autonomy and told he would only have to answer to one majority owner.

Once he took the job, he quickly fired anyone he didn’t like or felt was “old-fashioned.” In hindsight, he was brilliant and knew exactly what he was doing. At the time, some felt he was disrespectful.

If you want to read more about the political mess the Hawks became before Ferry’s firing, Kevin Arnovitz and Brian Windhorst wrote a detailed piece about it HERE.

The question becomes: What can he do for the Pelicans?

Shedding Dead Weight:

After doing extensive research on Ferry’s trades and transactions, I have very little doubt that the first recommendation he makes to Dell will be to immediately shed Omer Asik, and to a lesser extent Tyreke Evans’ contracts.

When Ferry was hired by the Hawks he almost immediately traded away Joe Johnson’s horrendous six-year 119 million dollar deal and teammate Marvin Williams. He couldn’t care less about continuity or salvaging sunk cost, he’s only interested in finding the best players moving forward.

Ferry’s immediate goal will be to move Asik and Tyreke, possibly together, to try to maximize the team’s flexibility and minimize the amount of “bad fits” they have on the roster – and yes, Tyreke Evans is a bad fit.

Ferry is a disciple of the Spurs way of basketball, and he will be looking for players who fit that mold rather than players with name recognition or flashy stat-lines. AD, Jrue, and Q-Pon are players he’s likely to favor, while Tyreke, Gordon, and possibly Anderson (though Gentry seems to like Anderson so he might not apply) are players he’s likely to consider counter-productive to the mentality and culture he wants to create.

Nov 25, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; New Orleans Pelicans center Omer Asik (3) against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Pelicans defeated the Suns 120-114. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

This means that in addition to recommending trades for Asik and Tyreke, he will probably recommend not resigning Gordon and Anderson this summer in free agency.

The Draft

As far as the 6th pick goes, Ferry probably won’t have a huge impact. He might have a personal favorite between Dunn, Hield, and Murray, but he won’t be suggesting any news names the Pelicans haven’t already looked into.

What we do know is that Ferry will likely advise against Demps trading away the 6th pick – something many have voiced concern about since the start of the season.

Where Ferry could shine as an advisor is in the 2nd round. He has a nose for finding undervalued raw talents which end up as solid role players and stop-gaps.

In 2012 he drafted Mike Scott with the 43rd pick. Scott is a scrappy stretch-four who shot 39% from three this season with per 36 minute career averages of 16.9 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 2.1 assists. If he were to find Mike Scott 2.0 in this year’s 2nd round, the Pelicans could find a dirt cheap replacement for Ryan Anderson.

The Pelicans are lucky enough to have both the 39th and 40th picks in this draft, which gives Demps and Ferry a pretty good shot at finding at least one solid rotation guy between those two slots.

Getting anything at all out of the 2nd round is an achievement, a solid role player or starter is a miracle.

Free Agency:

Al Horford probably won’t consider signing with a team that just won 30 games, but having Anthony Davis around and a previous relationship with Danny Ferry might be able to grant the Pelicans a meeting. He might not call back, but they probably take a shot regardless.

Nic Batum is another guy Ferry is likely to be interested in, but the talk around the league is that he’s happy in Charlotte and would need to be overpaid to relocate. Danny Ferry is not the kind of GM to overpay anyone, so expect him to pull the plug on the discussion if Demps starts getting trigger happy with the team’s checkbook.

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Some might be interested in Harrison Barnes as well, but expect Ferry to recommend going in another direction. Barnes is young and gets regular playing time on the best team in the league.

For that reason, he’s likely to get close to max money even though his personal production doesn’t warrant that kind of paycheck.

Ferry doesn’t overpay, he underpays (see: Paul Milsap).

Kent Bazemore is the most realistic target being thrown around. He averaged 15.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per 36 this season as an athletic three and D wing. He and Danny’s Hawks connection could help the Pelicans land him if they are willing to throw 10 or 12 million at him annually.

Apr 24, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Atlanta Hawks forward Kent Bazemore (24) brings the ball down the court during the second half in game four of the first round of the NBA Playoffs against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

I’d imagine Ferry will be interested in a few other guys. Cheap high IQ guys who know their roles like Langston Galloway, Mirza Teletovic, Jared Dudely and P.J. Tucker could be cheap options who don’t restrict the teams flexibility too much long-term.

He’ll have some suggestions, but his primary role will be to tell Demps when he’s getting too excitable with the Pelicans checkbook. Demps has given almost 150 million dollars to Tyreke Evans, Omer Asik, and Eric Gordon these past few years. With Ferry around, he’s less likely to make the same mistakes.

Big Picture:

For almost half a decade the Pelicans have been thinking short-term. Ferry however, thinks years down the line with each move he makes.

He wants picks, flexibility, and guys on high value contracts. He isn’t concerned about making sure the team is the 8th seed this season, he’s concerned about making sure they’re a top three seed in 2020.

This is GREAT news.

Having a guy with his mindset in the situation room vastly improves our chances of keeping Anthony Davis at the end of his extension. Ferry took a 40 win team to a 60 win team in barely three years and left them with a solid foundation after his departure.

Next: Pelicans Draft Comparison: Kris Dunn Could Be the Next Rajon Rondo

Ferry is one of the smartest GMs in the league, he’s supremely qualified, he’s financially secure, and he has massive respect around the league despite his ugly last few months with the Hawks.

The only question left is why he’s even here. Frankly, he’s overqualified for the job and we don’t really deserve him.

What does he stand to gain?