As if there isn’t enough going on around the Los Angeles Lakers, there is still an entire offseason to come. Central to this summer is going to be the re-upped pursuit of Anthony Davis. If you listen to newly-hired executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin, though, the New Orleans Pelicans aren’t in such a rush to move the all-pro big man.
Griffin gave his introductory press conference Wednesday in New Orleans and was asked about the approach he’ll have in managing the Davis situation. He gave a strong answer:
David Griffin on Anthony Davis: "We have a long successful history with Klutch Sports. Rich Paul and I have spoke about Anthony. We are both excited about what we could potentially build here."— Andrew Lopez (@_Andrew_Lopez) April 17, 2019
David Griffin: "Rich Paul and I were part of succeeding. They will understand when I say this, 'You are either all the way or all the way out.'"— Andrew Lopez (@_Andrew_Lopez) April 17, 2019
Griff going strong here. He believes Anthony Davis will want to stay.
Even with all this optimism, Griffin went on to say he has yet to speak with Davis, himself. He’s spoken with Rich Paul (with whom he has a good relationship dating back to their time together in Cleveland by way of LeBron James) and Jrue Holiday, but plans to have a conversation with Davis. Depending on how their conversation goes, Griffin’s stance on this could change and the situation could go right back to where everyone was at the trade deadline.
How Davis handles his conversation with Griffin will also go a long way in determining how this plays out, too, by the way. Should he continue his adversarial stance (as seen by that t-shirt of his), he might do further damage to the chances he gets sent where he wants.
That said, if he maintains a mature approach and is willing to work with Griffin and the Pelicans, even if he doesn’t want a return, the likelihood everyone operates in anyone other than their own self-interests might subside.
Another thing worth pointing out: Griffin has to say this. If he doesn’t go this strong on the subject, he loses any and all leverage in future negotiations with teams interested in acquiring Davis for the lowest possible price. There’s simply no need to hamstring himself before he even meets with Davis.
It’s important to remember how disinterested Pelicans ownership was in doing any kind of business with the Lakers. Remember, the Lakers walked away from that situation feeling as if New Orleans never operated in good faith. Without bringing up that annoying conversation again, Griffin could be given orders to approach negotiations with Rob Pelinka (or whoever might be in charge) in the exact same way.
Gayle Benson might remain dead-set against sending Davis to his preferred destination, too, which would continue a trend seen from owners whenever star players have given them a list of teams they want to be traded to.
All of this is to say that Griffin’s statements, as prudent and strong as they were, don’t really change anything right now.
The Lakers still have to decide on the direction they are going to take their front office (though signs point to that decision having been made already). Whoever is in charge will have to repair the relationship not only between the Lakers and New Orleans in this case, but if it’s Pelinka, he has an immense amount of work ahead to repair his own reputation.
Davis is obviously going to come up quite often this season and the Lakers are going to be right there in vying to pry him from New Orleans. Griffin was right to show optimism at this point of the situation and will remains as such until the very last moment he can. For now, the focus is on how the Lakers move forward and, once that’s figured out, they can get back to trying to convince New Orleans to at least meet them at the negotiating table.