Gayle Benson

Pelicans Notes: Davis, Griffin, Holiday, More

Making his first public appearance today as the Pelicans‘ new executive vice president of basketball operations, David Griffin offered an interesting take on the Anthony Davis situation.

As Will Guillory of The Athletic relays (via Twitter), Griffin said that after meeting with agent Rich Paul, he believes that Davis could be open to staying in New Orleans. Griffin has yet to speak to Davis directly, but plans to do so in the hopes of establishing whether AD is all-in or all-out on the Pelicans (Twitter link). He’s committed to convincing the 26-year-old that it’s possible to win in New Orleans (Twitter link).

It still seems like a long shot that Davis will be a Pelican to start the 2019/20 season, but Griffin made it clear today that he won’t let the All-NBA big man go without a fight, tweets Scott Kushner of The Advocate. As Kushner notes (via Twitter), New Orleans’ new head of basketball operations doesn’t think the Davis well is poisoned, and believes Paul is excited to work together.

Here’s more from Griffin’s introductory presser:

  • According to Griffin, he made some “outrageous” demands during his meeting with the Pelicans, and the team was on board, giving him confidence that owner Gayle Benson is 100% committed to the franchise’s success (Twitter link via Kushner). Griffin provided some clues at the changes he wants to make, mentioning his desire to invest in areas such as analytics, player performance, and the medical department (Twitter link via Kushner).
  • Griffin is excited about several of the players currently under contract with the Pelicans, singling out Jrue Holiday as someone who represents everything the Pelicans want to be (Twitter link via Guillory). The former Cavaliers GM said he “absolutely” feels as if Holiday is a foundational piece for the club (Twitter link via Kushner).
  • Responding to the idea of New Orleans as a small-market team, Griffin said that it would mean more to win in a “small” market, adding that it’s “bulls–t” to say winning in New Orleans isn’t possible (Twitter link via Guillory).
  • Pelicans president Dennis Lauscha said the Pelicans looked at more than 100 candidates for the job before hiring Griffin (Twitter link via Kushner). Obviously, the club narrowed that list down to a much smaller group before beginning interviews. Griffin, who has been a candidate for other front office openings, said it took him about a half-hour in the interview room for him to realize that the Pelicans’ job was the one he really wanted (Twitter link via Kushner).

Gayle Benson Vows To Remain Pelicans’ Owner

Gayle Benson, the widow of long-time Pelicans owner Tom Benson, vowed on Monday that she’ll retain ownership in the franchise, according to a New Orleans Advocate report.

Gayle Benson’s commitment to the franchise had been in doubt, particularly after superstar Anthony Davis made his trade demand this winter. Benson, who also controls ownership of the Saints, made her intentions clear at an NFL owners meeting.

“There is no way I’m going to sell that team (the Pelicans) ever,” Benson said.

The Pelicans are valued at $1.2 billion, according to Forbes’ most recent rankings, which is second-to-last in the league ahead of only the Grizzlies, the report notes. Their lease at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans runs through 2024.

We have more on Benson’s plans for the franchise:

  • Saints GM Mickey Loomis will focus exclusively on the football team going forward, Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune tweets.  He previously had oversight duties for both teams. Danny Ferry has been running the front office as the interim GM since Benson fired Dell Demps shortly after the February trade deadline. The new GM will oversee basketball operations and report directly to Benson, Duncan adds.
  • The outside consultant being used to conduct the GM search has recommended five or six candidates for the position, Duncan reports in another tweet. Benson and team president Dennis Lauscha will make the hire with Loomis also providing his input, Duncan adds.
  • Benson said there are no plans to relocate the Pelicans. Their lease at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans runs through 2024. “People are going to talk and there’s really nothing you can do about that,” Benson said, per Duncan. “Time will take care of it. They’ll see that I’m sincere and I’m not going anywhere.”

Pelicans Notes: Davis, Demps, Benson, Okafor

Despite Anthony Davis not wanting to be the bad guy, his botched trade request in New Orleans has left him with no other choice, Michael Lee of The Athletic writes.

Davis made his request last month through agent Rich Paul, who took the request to various media outlets and publicized his client’s wish. Davis confirmed his list of preferred trade destinations over All-Star Weekend: The Bucks, Celtics, Clippers, Knicks and Lakers.

“When you’re somewhere for seven years, of course it’s tough but, I don’t know how long I’m going to play this game,” Davis said, according to Lee. “I want to make sure I have a chance to win. I want to win. Like I said, no matter where it is. I have no preferred destination. But I want to play the game of basketball and I want to win. I just felt like it was time for me to move forward, try to take control of my career and go out there and try to win.

“Market doesn’t matter to me. I just want to win,” Davis said. “Big market, small market, that doesn’t matter. I’m focused on winning at this point in my career, wherever that may be. It could be a big market or a small market, I just want to win.”

Davis will have to finish out the 2018/19 season in New Orleans despite seeking a trade. The Pelicans failed to move him before the Feb. 7 trading deadline, meaning the earliest they can open new trade discussions is when season comes to an end.

Davis has mostly received boos from Pelicans fans in pregame intros, and the reaction from the fan base on social media has been mixed.

There’s more out of New Orleans today:

  • The Pelicans made the right decision by parting ways with general manager Dell Demps last week, Ben Golliver of The Washington Post opines. Demps, who served as New Orleans’ GM for nine seasons, failed to effectively build a winning roster around Davis since drafting him back in 2012. Pelicans owner Gayle Benson said the team will immediately begin the process of restructuring its basketball operations department, which will include a comprehensive and confidential search of a new leader that reports to Benson.
  • Benson’s next major decision will either break or make the Pelicans, Larry Holder of The Athletic writes. New Orleans has to decide whether to trade Davis this offseason, or try to persuade him into staying with their younger group. “I think they’re young, and we’re going to invest more money and get the big players and do everything we can to keep Anthony here,” Benson said. “I really like what we have in place. I really like Anthony, but if he wants to leave, you can’t hold him back.”
  • William Guillory of The Athletic hosted a Q&A with Jahlil Okafor, who’s having a bounce-back season with the Pelicans through 38 games. Okafor discussed his mentality this season, playing with Davis, how he’s improved as a player and much more in the story.

Pelicans Rumors: Griffin, Front Office, Davis

Former Cavaliers general manager David Griffin is among the possible preliminary candidates to replace Dell Demps as the Pelicans‘ GM, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Celtics assistant GM Mike Zarren may also be a target for New Orleans, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times.

Team owner Gayle Benson, who wants to find a pathway to sustainable success in a small market, intends to be aggressive in pursuing the “best available candidates” to run the club’s basketball operations, according to Wojnarowski.

[RELATED: Pelicans parting ways with GM Dell Demps]

Elsewhere in his full report on Demps’ dismissal, Wojnarowski relays that Benson is looking to take back control of the Pelicans from the “outside forces” she believes have tried to push the franchise in a direction that isn’t in the club’s best interests.

While Woj doesn’t get into specifics, it seems safe to assume that’s a reference to the efforts Anthony Davis‘ camp made to get him moved to the Lakers prior to the trade deadline.

Here’s more on the Pelicans and their front office shakeup:

  • The determination to fire Demps was made by Benson, making it the first major decision of her tenure as Pelicans owner, tweets Jeff Duncan of The Times-Picayune.
  • The Pelicans have known for weeks that Demps would likely need to be replaced, according to Scott Kushner of The Advocate, who says (via Twitter) that the club had initially hoped to wait until the end of the season to finalize its decision.
  • Kushner also suggests (via Twitter) that today’s move makes it clear that the Lakers/Davis saga leading up to the deadline was controlled by team ownership rather than Demps, since the club wouldn’t have let him make the final call on a decision of that magnitude if he was about to be fired.
  • Prior to Demps’ dismissal, Chris Mannix of SI.com dropped an interesting tidbit in a story about Davis and the Pelicans, citing sources who said that New Orleans may have been more open to dealing with the Lakers at the deadline if Davis’ trade request had been “handled quietly.”
  • Jordan Greer of Sporting News argues that – after Davis’ latest injury and Demps’ firing – the time is right for the Pelicans to sit AD for the rest of the season.

Latest On Anthony Davis

Some members of the Pelicans organization want to get the Anthony Davis trade done today to eliminate the public relations distraction, but those feelings don’t go all the way to the top, according to Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter link). The NFL’s Saints remain the priority for owner Gayle Benson and VP Mickey Loomis, who aren’t bothered by the Davis situation.

There’s more news about the top name on the trade market:

  • The Lakers’ last offer to the Pelicans involved Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Ivica Zubac, Josh Hart and a pair of first-round picks, tweets John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7. He suggests the Celtics are prepared to offer Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart, Robert Williams, Al Horford (assuming he opts in) and possibly three first-round picks this summer.
  • Davis will pressure the Pelicans to start playing him if he’s not dealt before the deadline, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin (Twitter link). “Every game,” a source said. Davis has been sidelined with a fractured left index finger, but recently received medical clearance.
  • Gambadoro expects Davis to be in the lineup for tomorrow’s game against Minnesota (Twitter link).