We’ve known this was a done deal for a while, but Wednesday he stepped out on stage and made it official: David Griffin is the man in charge of basketball operations for the New Orleans Pelicans. He’s the guy with the hammer now.
What Griffin talked most about was building an infrastructure that can win in New Orleans. That means investing in the medical side (too often in the past that was tied to the Saints organization to save money, not with basketball people), as well as in player development. He also talked about the proper use of analytics, in balance, but increasing info from that part of the organization as well.
Of course, what everyone else wanted to talk about was Anthony Davis.
Davis’ representatives asked for a trade last season before the deadline, doing so in a very public way that torpedoed any playoff dreams for the Pelicans (those were longshots anyway) and creating a storm that eventually engulfed and help tank the Lakers, too. Davis came out the other end, still a Pelican, but around the league everyone expects him to be traded this summer.
Griffin said he is going to give it a shot to keep Davis, but the All-Star big man has to be all-in.
Griffin has to take this shot. Even if the Pelicans got their dream offer from Boston or wherever, they would not get a player the caliber of Davis in return. He is a top-five NBA player when healthy (and that may be too low), a force on both ends of the court, and he is just entering his prime. Griffin has to sit down with Davis and his agent Rich Paul, make his pitch about upgrades to both the team infrastructure and the roster, remind him how much extra money the Pelicans can pay him compared to any other team, and try to get Davis to buy in.
If that fails… more likely when that fails, then Griffin moves on to Plan B. Which would be trading Davis for the best possible deal (look for a move around the draft), but maybe keeping Jrue Holiday.
If the Pelicans go into a full rebuild, they may need to consider trading Holiday. Then again, the right package of players with a healthy Holiday could have the Pelicans close to a playoff spot in the West while still restructuring the roster for the future.
Griffin wants to win and win big in New Orleans. He owned up to that being a challenge in a smaller market, but called it “b*******” that small markets can’t get titles.