David Griffin

Pelicans Notes: Griffin, Draft Picks, Markkanen, C. White

Pelicans executive David Griffin put his stamp on the franchise with Saturday’s Anthony Davis trade and now needs to prove he can build a winner without the star big man, writes Scott Kushner of The Advocate. The franchise is making a transition from the Davis era to the Zion Williamson era, and its success will depend on the package of assets that New Orleans received from the Lakers.

Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart provide a nice collection of young talent, but Griffin didn’t land the proven All-Star he set out to get when he set the parameters for potential offers. Griffin opted for quantity rather than quality, choosing to gamble on three players with high upsides, along with three picks, including the No. 4 selection in this week’s draft.

Griffin likely has a lot of deals left to make. Each of the new assets has trade value that might enable him to increase his return for Davis, but whatever Griffin does, yesterday’s deal will be the pivotal step in defining his tenure in New Orleans.

There’s more on the Pelicans:

  • By accepting two picks so far in the future, the Pelicans are gambling that the Lakers won’t be among the league’s best teams once LeBron James retires, Kushner tweets. New Orleans will receive L.A.’s pick in 2021, which will become unprotected in 2022 if it doesn’t convey. The Pelicans also get an unprotected selection in 2024 and the right to exchange picks in 2023 and 2025 with no protection in either year. Those future choices could fall in the late 20s if the Lakers remain an elite team or they could provide a draft haul similar to what the Celtics got from the Nets a few years ago.
  • The Bulls might be the best option if the Pelicans decide to deal this year’s pick, suggests Sam Vecenie of The Athletic. Chicago is in the market for a point guard, and Vanderbilt’s Darius Garland should be on the board at No. 4. Vecenie speculates Lauri Markkanen might be available because of his defensive liabilities and the Bulls’ commitment to Wendell Carter as their long-term center. He adds that the Pelicans will probably spend the next few days bringing in as many top prospects as possible before making a decision.
  • If the Pelicans keep the fourth pick, they are likely to take North Carolina’s Coby White ahead of Garland, tweets John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7.

Latest On The Anthony Davis Trade

The addition of David Griffin in New Orleans and the lottery fortunes of both teams enabled the Lakers and Pelicans to work out an Anthony Davis trade yesterday after negotiations failed in February, writes Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. Griffin, whom the Pelicans hired in April as executive vice president of basketball operations, was “the biggest difference” this time around, a source tells Shelburne, adding that he had the freedom to “negotiate fairly and frankly.”

Although they made a show of dealing with the Lakers before the deadline, the Pelicans weren’t willing to entrust a franchise-altering deal to former GM Dell Demps, whom they were about to fire. Ownership in New Orleans resented the way the Lakers tried to force them into a deal and never gave serious consideration to any offers from L.A., Shelburne adds. Demps would only talk to former Lakers president Magic Johnson, not GM Rob Pelinka, then would write down the names being offered and leak them to the press, which led to chemistry issues in the L.A. locker room.

In addition to bringing Griffin into the equation, the situation changed when the Lakers landed the No. 4 pick in the lottery, giving them another valuable asset to include in their offer. The Pelicans might use that selection to add another top rookie to team with Zion Williamson or they might deal it to increase a haul that already includes three picks and three talented young players.

There’s more this morning on the NBA’s first blockbuster trade of the offseason:

  • Although the Lakers got the best player in the deal, they only receive a C-plus grade from ESPN’s Kevin Pelton, while the Pelicans get an A-minus. With the Celtics refusing to part with Jayson Tatum because they weren’t sure of a long-term commitment from Davis, the return of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart plus the draft picks was the best they were going to do, Pelton contends. They already have better talent to surround Williamson with than there were able to amass around Davis. Pelton states that the Lakers had to move on Davis because they were in danger of striking out in free agency, but they gave up a lot of cost-controlled young talent and now have a top-heavy roster that will have to be filled with bargain signings.
  • Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated sees the deal as a huge win for the Lakers, who now return to relevancy after six years of missing the playoffs. LeBron James is about to turn 35 in December and L.A. was running out of time to surround him with stars. Mannix calls the deal a “career-defining moment” for Pelinka.
  • After the trade was announced, the Lakers became clear betting favorites to win next year’s title. BetOnline.ag lists them as +350, well ahead of the second-place Bucks at +700.

Pelicans Agree To Trade Anthony Davis To Lakers

The Pelicans have reached an agreement to trade All-Star big man Anthony Davis to the Lakers for guards Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart, forward Brandon Ingram and three first-round picks, including the No. 4 overall pick in this year’s draft, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

The rest of the Pelicans’ haul includes a 9-30 protected first-rounder in 2021, which becomes unprotected in 2022, and an unprotected first-rounder in 2024.

New Orleans will also have the right to swap unprotected first-rounders in 2o23 and will have the option to defer the 2024 pick until 2025, according to reports from Tim Bontemps of ESPN and Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter links).

The Lakers immediately become championship contenders with Davis joining forces with LeBron James. Davis’ agent Rich Paul, also James’ agent, had tried to steer trade talks toward the Lakers over the winter after Davis’ desire to be traded was made public. But Davis didn’t get his wish at the time.

Paul and Davis recently met with the Pelicans’ new top executive, David Griffin, who tried to convince Davis to rescind his trade request. Davis declined and expressed his desire to play long-term for either the Lakers or Knicks.

GM Rob Pelinka, who has been under fire after criticism from former Lakers president Magic Johnson, pulled off a major coup by winning the Davis sweepstakes over the Knicks and Celtics, among others. Los Angeles gave up plenty in the deal but didn’t have to include another talented big man, Kyle Kuzma.

Davis could sign an extension with the Lakers but still intends to test free agency next summer, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports tweets.

The Lakers will have either $27.8MM or $32.5MM in cap room after the deal to pursue a high-level free agent, depending upon timing and Davis’ willingness to waive his $4MM trade bonus, ESPN salary cap expert Bobby Marks tweets.

The trade cannot be officially finalized until after the new league year begins in July. It may be even be completed as late as July 30 — newly-drafted players can be traded immediately without signing a rookie scale contract, but if they sign that contract, they aren’t eligible to be dealt for 30 days. Waiting those 30 days would be advantageous to the Lakers for cap-related reasons, as Marks notes (via Twitter).

The Lakers still don’t have quite enough cap room to max out a free agent like Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving or Kemba Walker but they’re close to it, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets. Naturally, one of those free agents might take a little less to form a superstar trio in Los Angeles or the Lakers could make other moves to clear more cap room. Walker will be the Lakers’ top free agent target, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets.

Boston refused to part with its top young player, forward Jayson Tatum, in trade talks with the Pelicans, Stein add in another tweet. That put the Lakers in the driver’s seat for Davis’ services.

With Ball and Hart joining Jrue Holiday, the Pelicans have greatly enhanced their backcourt. They now have the No. 1 and No. 4 picks in Thursday’s draft. It’s a slam dunk they’ll select Duke forward Zion Williamson with the top pick and theyll get another high-level prospect, unless they have another trade in the works. Williamson and Ingram should be a formidable duo at the forward spots and the Pelicans can now concentrate on bringing in another big man to make all the other pieces work.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lakers’ Dilemma: No Top Free Agents Without Anthony Davis?

Top free agents may not seriously consider signing with the Lakers if the team doesn’t trade for Anthony Davis, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN said on the network’s Mock Draft Special (h/t the Showtime Forum).

“The Lakers are not a frontrunner or even really a major consideration among any of the elite free agents,” Wojnarowski said of a scenario where the team doesn’t trade for Davis.

Los Angeles plans to use the No. 4 overall pick as part of a trade package in an attempt to entice the Pelicans. That selection is among the highest-valued assets among presumed Davis contenders, as we previously detailed. Woj believes that if the Lakers are picking at that spot on draft night, the franchise will be “in trouble.”

The Lakers are expected attempt to sign Kevin Durant regardless of how long they expect the former MVP to be sidelined. Other marquee free agents that the club is expected to pursue include Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, and Jimmy Butler.

Pelicans head of basketball operations David Griffin had initially hoped to convince Davis to remain in New Orleans. The franchise has reportedly softened its stance on fulfilling Davis’ trade request and Griffin has reportedly named his terms: An All-Star player, a young player with the potential to be an All-Star, and multiple first-round picks.

The Lakers don’t have an All-Star caliber player on the roster outside of LeBron James. They have an assortment of intriguing prospects and may need to bring in a third team willing to part with a player of that caliber in order to get a deal done.

Lakers, Knicks Top Anthony Davis’ Wish List

Anthony Davis is focused on joining either the Lakers or Knicks as his long-term destination, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports.

Davis, who can become a free agent next summer, has not formally told Pelicans executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin that he has narrowed his list. Davis submitted a four-team list to the Pelicans in February that also included the Clippers and Bucks.

Griffin met with Davis and his agent, Rich Paul, late last month in an effort to convince Davis to remain with the Pelicans. However, Davis’ desire to be dealt remained unchanged and Griffin has accelerated trade talks.

Several teams have expressed an interest in trading for Davis, according to Charania, including the Lakers, Clippers, Knicks, Nets and Celtics. An ESPN report surfaced earlier on Monday that Griffin is willing to involve third parties in trade discussions in order to maximize the package New Orleans would receive.

Charania’s report suggests that Paul is attempting to steer those discussions toward the Lakers and Knicks. If those franchises know that Davis is willing to commit to them long-term, they obviously have more incentive to do everything they can to acquire the superstar big man.

Even so, other suitors — including the Celtics — are aggressively pursuing Davis despite not being one of his preferred teams. The Celtics are apparently willing to deal for Davis regardless of where Kyrie Irving ends up in free agency, Charania continues.

Griffin could hold onto Davis into next month with the hope of getting a desperate team that missed on its free agent targets to up the ante, Charania adds.

Southwest Notes: House, Davis, Riccardi, Doncic

The Rockets are planning to match any offer for restricted free agent Danuel House, Kelly Iko of The Athletic reports. The swingman appeared in seven postseason games but shot just 29.7% from the field. During the regular season, House appeared in 39 games, including 13 starts, and averaged 9.4 PPG and 3.6 RPG in 25.1 MPG. House’s qualifying offer is a modest $1,876,700.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • The current Pelicans brass might have a more favorable opinion of the Lakers’ reported offers for Anthony Davis than the previous regime, Brad Botkin of CBS Sports relays. Comments on The Sedano Show made by executive VP David Griffin prior to being hired by New Orleans suggest that he’s very high on the potential of Lakers forward Brandon Ingram.
  • The Grizzlies were interested in hiring Matt Riccardi, an assistant GM with the Nets’ G League franchise, for a front office position, according to Michael Scotto of The Athletic. Riccardi was granted permission to speak with the Grizzlies brass but opted to stay with the Nets organization.
  • Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was impressed by Rookie of the Year candidate Luka Doncic‘s conditioning in a recent workout with coach Rick Carlisle, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News reports. “He’s definitely in better shape,” Cuban said, adding jokingly that Doncic is finally showing abdominal muscles.
  • UCF center Tacko Fall worked out for the Rockets this week, Scott Agness of The Athletic tweets. Fall also visited the Pacers and Knicks.

Southwest Notes: Barea, Ball, Davis, Capela, Conley

Point guard J.J. Barea‘s recovery from a ruptured right Achilles tendon is going well and he’s hopeful of playing for Puerto Rico in the FIBA World Cup this summer, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon tweets. The Mavericks veteran suffered the injury on January 11th and underwent surgery three days later.

“The way I feel right now, it looks pretty good,” Barea told MacMahon. “But I’m not going to make a decision until it gets closer.” Barea is doing non-contact basketball activity under the supervision of Mavericks staff members, MacMahon adds, and took 600 shots in an hour last week.

Barea, an unrestricted free agent this summer, is expected to re-sign with the Mavericks.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • While Anthony Davis‘ representatives said he still wants out after meeting last week with executive VP David Griffin, there’s no need for Griffin to rush out and trade the superstar big man, Scott Kushner of the New Orleans Advocate writes. Griffin can wait as long as February’s trade deadline to deal Davis, leaving open the possibility that the team can convince him to change his mind. If Davis remains firm, his wish is more likely to come to fruition if he’s willing to make a commitment to the trade partner, Kushner adds.
  • Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry is intrigued by the possibility of a Lonzo BallJrue Holiday backcourt if Davis is dealt to the Lakers, Andrew Lopez of the Times-Picayune reports (hat tip to the Sporting News).
  • The Hawks, Spurs, Mavericks and Kings are possible destinations for center Clint Capela if the Rockets deal him, Frank Urbina of HoopsHype opines. The Rockets reportedly have made everyone on the roster available at the right price.
  • The Grizzlies should swap veteran point guard Mike Conley while his value remains high after he averaged a career high in points this season, Omari Sankofa II of The Athletic argues.

Adam Silver Spoke To Zion Williamson

Appearing on the latest episode of PodcastOne Sports Now with Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press (h/t to NBA.com), NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told Reynolds that he has already offered the all-but-assured No. 1 overall pick of the Pelicans, Duke’s Zion Williamson, a little bit of advice on how to enjoy the process of beginning an NBA career.

First off, despite the drama surrounding the Anthony Davis situation in New Orleans right now, Silver says Williamson is fortunate that new president of basketball operations David Griffin was hired, as he is the “right guy at the right time” for the Pelicans, especially since he has the unenviable task of determining whether or not – and perhaps when – to trade Davis. As for the actual advice given to Williamson, Silver said:

“(F)ocus on your game first and foremost the other stuff will come after it. But (that being said), this is a special moment in your life… to the extent you can remain in the moment. There’s so much attention focused on you and at the end of the day this is a game and you now have the opportunity to play it at the highest level. There’s tremendous resources available to you no matter what team drafts you.”

It continues to look more and more unlikely that Davis and Williamson will get to play together in The Big Easy, but that may ultimately be in Williamson’s best interest, as he should be the go-to guy immediately. Moreover, the haul the Pelicans will get in return for Davis should be a nice supporting cast with which to surround Williamson.

Anthony Davis Unlikely To Relent On Trade Request

Anthony Davis had a meeting with executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin earlier today and while the conversation was “productive,” it appears Davis has already made up his mind. Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter links) reports that it’s still highly unlikely that Davis backs off of his trade request.

The Pelicans continue to hold out hope that Davis will reconsider. He’s under contract through the end of the 2019/20 season, so New Orleans could roll the dice and hope that playing alongside presumed No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson for a season will help to change his tune.

[RELATED: Five Key Offseason Questions: New Orleans Pelicans]

More likely, if the Pelicans continue to get the message that Davis will leave, they’ll trade him before the 2020 trade deadline. The Lakers and Knicks are reportedly on his list of preferred destinations. The two teams’ most valuable assets are the No. 3 and No. 4 overall picks, respectively, in the view of sources around the league.

The Celtics are also expected to make a run at trading for Davis, as they envision pairing the big man with Kyrie Irving, who a free agent this summer. Rumblings about the Clippers and Nets as dark horse teams have surfaced as well.

Anthony Davis, David Griffin Met On Wednesday

2:25pm: After meeting this morning in L.A., Griffin and Davis are expected to “continue a dialogue” going forward, league sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Griffin will continue to try to make his case for why AD should seriously consider staying in New Orleans.

9:39am: New Pelicans head of basketball operations David Griffin will get his opportunity to meet with star big man Anthony Davis today, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter). While Charania’s report doesn’t include any additional details, Griffin previously said that the meeting would likely take place in Los Angeles.

Since being hired by the Pelicans last month to run the franchise’s front office, Griffin has been adamant about wanting to do all he can to retain Davis, despite the fact that the 26-year-old issued a trade request earlier this year.

Both before and after the draft lottery, reports indicated that Davis’ stance on that trade request remained unchanged, and that he still wants to be dealt to a new team. Now that he has a chance to sit down with his new star, Griffin will try to change Davis’ mind and convince him that he can lead a contender in New Orleans, particularly with the club in position to draft top prospect Zion Williamson next month.

Outside of the impending addition of Williamson, there are a number of factors working in Griffin’s favor. He has a good relationship with AD’s agent Rich Paul, who represented LeBron James when Griffin was the general manager in Cleveland. The Pelicans’ new executive VP of basketball operations also won’t be influenced by any past tension with Davis or his camp, since he wasn’t part of the organization when that trade request was made. Plus, New Orleans can still put a super-max extension offer on the table.

[RELATED: Designated Veteran Extension History, Eligible Players]

If Davis sticks to his trade request and shows no interest in being part of the Pelicans’ long-term future, Griffin would have two viable options: Trade him this offseason, or hang onto him anyway with an eye toward moving him at the 2020 trade deadline (or changing his mind by then).

Earlier today, we ranked 25 of the most valuable trade assets held by a handful of the teams believed to be prime suitors for Davis.