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Hornets hire former Spurs vice president Demps as GM

By David Aldridge, TNT analyst
Posted Jul 21 2010 6:22AM

The New Orleans Hornets have opted to entrust their immediate future -- and their ability to convince star guard Chris Paul to stay in town in two years -- to a rookie braintrust, after agreeing to terms Tuesday with San Antonio Spurs vice president Dell Demps to become their new general manager.

Demps will join new coach Monty Williams, in his first year as a head coach, and try to build around Paul the way the Spurs have successfully built around Tim Duncan for more than a decade.

Demps is yet another member of the Spurs' organization -- he was GM of the Spurs' D-League team in Austin and the Spurs' director of pro personnel -- to be hired by another team to run its basketball operations, joining Sam Presti (Oklahoma City) and former GMs Steve Kerr (Phoenix) and Danny Ferry (Cleveland). Demps, who played for the Spurs, Warriors and Magic as well as several teams abroad in a 10-year career, is currently San Antonio's vice president of basketball operations.

The Hornets picked Demps over former Blazers general manager Kevin Pritchard, former Sacramento assistant GM Jason Levien, Washington vice president of basketball administration Tommy Sheppard and former Suns assistant GM David Griffin. And Demps picked the Hornets over Phoenix, which also coveted him to work under the team's new chief basketball executive, former player agent Lon Babby. The Suns came hard after Demps, but the ability to have complete control over personnel in New Orleans instead of reporting to Babby in Phoenix was a deciding factor for the 40-year-old Demps.

Pritchard pulled out of the running late Tuesday, but Demps had been the Hornets' top choice since the weekend, when he met for a second time with team president Hugh Weber.

New Orleans fired former GM Jeff Bower last week, calling it an amicable parting. But several sources maintained that the team got rid of Bower as his relationship with Paul became more strained in recent months. The Hornets had made preliminary inquiries about Paul's trade value, and though the team was unlikely to deal Paul this summer, rumors have persisted that Portland and New Jersey both made serious pitches for the All-Star guard. Paul can opt out of his contract after the 2011-12 season.

ESPN.com first reported Demps' hiring by the Hornets.

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