Tom Benson Rumors
Rita LeBlanc once expected to spend many years running the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans, which would have made her one of the most powerful women in pro sports. This week, the disowned granddaughter has spent many hours on a witness stand, trying to persuade a judge that her 87-year-old grandfather, Tom Benson, was not of sound mind when he ousted her, her mother and her brother from ownership positions with his NFL and NBA clubs, and changed his succession plan to place his third wife in line to control his business empire.
But league sources pointed out Tuesday that the people whose names were on the press release may not be the ones making the decision. Former Pistons executive Joe Dumars, a Louisiana native, has been providing input with the team and has a close relationship with Loomis and owner Tom Benson.
The announcement of Williams’ firing was made via press release in which executive vice president Mickey Loomis and GM Dell Demps expressed nothing but praise for Williams, who’d become not only popular in the locker room but also influential in the league as a member of the competition committee and, like Thibodeau, an assistant with Team USA. But league sources pointed out Tuesday that the people whose names were on the press release may not be the ones making the decision. Former Pistons executive Joe Dumars, a Louisiana native, has been providing input with the team and has a close relationship with Loomis and owner Tom Benson.
New Orleans is the third franchise to emerge with a head coaching opening, including Denver and Orlando. The presence of Davis makes the Pelicans the most appealing to prospective candidates. Two weeks ago, New Orleans owner Tom Benson wrote a public letter of congratulations and support for Williams, his coaching staff and the team. “I am very excited about the future of our Pelicans and you have my word and my resolve to bring everything to bear to win,” Benson wrote.
“I have the utmost respect for Monty Williams, not only as a coach but as a person,” said Pelicans Owner Tom Benson. “He represented our team, our organization and our city with tremendous class and dignity. Gayle and I grew very fond of Monty and his wife Ingrid and of course their five beautiful children. We wish him nothing but the best moving forward.” The Pelicans finished the 2014-15 season with a record of 45-37 and the eighth position in the Western Conference, earning New Orleans its first postseason berth in four seasons. “Making a decision like this is never easy and is never done hastily, especially when you are dealing with a person of Monty Williams’ character. We thanked Monty for the tremendous work and commitment he made to our organization and the development of our young players, specifically Anthony Davis,” said Loomis. “While we continue to work towards improving our roster, we decided that now was the time to make this decision. We wish nothing but the best for Monty in the future.”
Williams has a year remaining on his contract and though management has yet to offer him an extension, Pelicans owner Tom Benson sent a letter of congratulations last week for the team’s winning season and playoff appearance. ”He’s a great coach, the whole team loves him, the organization loves him,” Davis said. ”I don’t know what’s going to happen. That’s none of my business.But he’s done a lot for this organization since he’s been here. He takes so much heat and really doesn’t let it bother him. He makes sure that he stays focus on his goal, which is the team.”