METAIRIE, LA (WVUE) - As a former Golden State assistant and now their most recent victim, head coach Alvin Gentry has seen what it takes to build a championship contender. With another year guaranteed in New Orleans, and likely an extension on the way, now it's time for the Pelicans to take that next step, as well.
"The one thing that I think Golden State has on most of the teams here is that they've done this for the last four years," says Gentry. "They've been in competitions where the games become bigger and bigger. I thought we took a huge step this year from the standpoint of being able to be in the playoffs and play at a really high level."
But the elephant in the room remains the future of some of the Pelicans key players, such as starters Rajon Rondo and DeMarcus Cousins. General Manager Dell Demps emphasizes how important it is to maintain their great team chemistry, but also says these decisions are never easy.
"Sometimes things happen that you can't control in free agency," says Demps. "In a perfect world, we'd like to have him (Cousins) and Rondo back, and we also want to add to our team. We feel like we want to build off this season, but we want to grow. We don't want to look back. We want to keep going forward."
That might mean entering luxury tax territory. Both Gentry and Demps spoke very highly of team owner Gayle Benson and her constant support, from attending road playoff games and practices to even joining team meals. If becoming a truly elite NBA team means paying the big dollars for it, like both the Warriors and Cavaliers, Demps feels confident that they'll be aggressive.
"I think if there's a situation that puts us in a position to compete for championships, we're going to go for it," says Demps. "That's been the mindset."
Whether that means spending on Cousins and Rondo, or searching elsewhere, only time will tell.