By Rob Mahoney
The Hornets have rebounded quickly since trading away Chris Paul, establishing a solid foundation and a legitimate direction, two accomplishments which they owe in part to the reconstructive efforts of GM Dell Demps. As such, the Hornets have, according to a team release, given Demps a multi-year extension as both a validation of work well done and a signal of the franchise's emerging continuity. Demps' managerial career is off to a promising start, and the acquisition of No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis will help to ease the team-building process from here on out.
Ultimately, Davis is the kind of standout talent who will make everything that the Hornets do look that much better. But Demps has thus far demonstrated enough know-how to elevate New Orleans beyond the ranks of the promising up-and-comers. With the help of a mulligan from the league office, Demps was able to turn Paul's leverage-killing trade demand into Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu (who has shown real growth this season), the expiring contract of Chris Kaman and the pick that netted rookie guard Austin Rivers.
He also dug up a rotation-caliber player in Gustavo Ayon, and then used Ayon's affordable contract to acquire sharpshooter Ryan Anderson via sign-and-trade. Demps allowed David West to leave as a free agent, and subsequently traded Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza in order to give the team the financial reboot it badly needed. He also picked up Greivis Vasquez in a deal that at the time seemed inconsequential, but has actually worked out fairly well for the Hornets with Vasquez averaging 12.3 points and 8.8 assists. Plus: Demps has worked the free-agent market relentlessly in search of young talent to bring in for tryouts and 10-day contracts, and though he hasn't struck gold just yet, one has to admire his diligence. His record isn't spotless, but Demps has ultimately committed to a winning rebuilding strategy and has Davis -- and a bright basketball mind in head coach Monty Williams -- to anchor an evolving roster. That's a formidable group with great synergy from potential star to coach to front office, and Tom Benson and the Hornets have seen to it that their talented leaders remain secure at all levels.