David Griffin

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David Griffin to the Pelicans is a huge deal: Here's why

Griffin becomes the team's President of Basketball Operations

Seth Dunlap
April 12, 2019 - 4:32 pm
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That didn't take long.  

The New Orleans Pelicans ended their regular season with a 112-103 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night.  Less than 72 hours later they've named David Griffin as their new President of Basketball operations.  

Griffin will assume control of a franchise that has oscillated between mediocrity and irrelevance since it's inception in 2002.   No longer will Mickey Loomis, a brilliant mind but one much more focused on his duties with the Saints, have that role.  The mind-meld between the Saints and Pelicans appears to be breaking, and that's nothing but a good thing.

Griffin's hire comes as the Pelicans prepare to execute one of the biggest trades in NBA history, and one that will certainly define professional basketball's future in New Orleans.  The Anthony Davis trade request looms over this franchise like the Army of the Dead looms over Westeros: everybody know's it's coming, but nobody seems to agree on the right course of action.   Thankfully the Pelicans now have their own personal Jon Snow, a man who will be fully dedicated to meeting this challenge head on without the petty outside distractions that derailed those before him.  No more football people running a basketball organization.  No more constant chatter about whether the ownership group really cares about their professional basketball team.  Gayle Benson has been telling us for months that she does indeed care about the Pelicans and their future success in New Orleans.  Now we know she means it.

Griffin has other big decisions to make, including whether to retain head coach Alvin Gentry or to bring his own guy, or gal, for that job.  He will also need to decide whether to build around Jrue Holiday and Julius Randle, or to trade those players and begin a full organizational rebuild.

Those decisions will be debated ad nauseam over the next few months inside the front office, on sports talk radio, and on social media.  Today, it's time to realize just how big of a coup landing David Griffin was for the Pelicans.  

Griffin was the most sought after front office talent in the league this year.  He spent three seasons in Cleveland, winning a championship in in 2016.  He was essentially forced out by owner Dan Gilbert just a year later when Gilbert wanted more control of his franchise, and more direct control over LeBron James.  

Griffin could have decided to take the Los Angeles Lakers now-vacant job as it was no secret that LeBron wanted him there.  Outside of the Lakers, there was a slew of other openings that he would have almost assuredly been the top choice for.  That Griffin chose the Pelicans, just as much as the Pelicans chose him, is a massive deal.  

The Pelicans job, the franchise, was enticing enough to Griffin that he eschewed a possible opportunity in big, bad Los Angeles to come to a small market with essentially no history of professional basketball success.   Griffin saw an opportunity to remake the franchise in his vision, to trade Davis in return for a king's ransom of assets that should make any re-build, or re-tool, a short one.   He saw an owner who was passionately committed to making the Pelicans a consistent winner.  He realized the players on this roster beyond Davis offered enough promise that he could build around them.

Today was a banner day for the Pelicans franchise.  Now, it will be up to David Griffin to meet the high expectations that have been set for his arrival in New Orleans.

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