On Monday morning, news broke that New Orleans Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin had begun talking to the Los Angeles Lakers and other teams about a possible trade for Anthony Davis, and that he was hoping to get the situation resolved by the 2019 NBA Draft, or even as soon as this weekend.
But while that may be true, Griffin said on a conference call with local media that he isn’t in a rush to do a deal, even if he’s “open minded” about the possibility of one (via Pelicans beat writer Andrew Lopez of The Times-Picayune):
“I don’t anticipate anything of major significance other than the meeting with Zion and his family. I never anticipate that. I’m open minded. I think we all are. There’s a point at which we act. If things evolve in such a way that it’s time for us to make a decision relative to Anthony Davis or any other part of the organization, we will. But we’re not in a hurry to do anything. We don’t feel there is a time sensitivity to anything we’re talking about. That includes AD’s desire to stay or not stay. It’s not something there’s a shot clock on.”
This is sort of what Griffin has to say here. That doesn’t make it not true, but he also can’t publicly admit that he wants to get a deal done by a specific date, because it would give teams leverage over him to try and force a lower deal in negotiations if they know he just wants this resolved.
But Griffin is an experienced executive, and no one should expect him to make a bad deal just to make one, anyway. Of course he’s also open to getting something done, but even if he really wants this to be over, he’s not going to just give Davis away.
Still, there are reasons to believe that he and the Pelicans would like to get this over with. In practical matters, it makes sense to do a deal before the draft so that Griffin can host players for the No. 4 pick he’d be getting from the Lakers, No. 3 pick he’d get from the New York Knicks, or any other picks he’d get from other teams. It would also allow Griffin to make those picks, or let the teams know who he wanted if a deal wasn’t officially completed yet, because if he doesn’t, then those teams might pick players that aren’t his first choice.
There is also the reality that it’s unlikely other teams are going to give up a ton for Davis, considering that he’s still trying to force his way only to the Knicks or Lakers. Because of that, offers are unlikely to pick up too much even after teams strike out in free agency, because they may just assume Davis is leaving anyway and not want to offer the entire treasure chest of assets that Griffin is reportedly seeking. Is a dark horse team really going to gamble on a player that seems more determined than any to get to L.A.? Are the Celtics really going to not low-ball a team while attempting to trade for a star for the first time ever? Both outcomes seem unlikely, and if that’s the case — and the Lakers come with a fair offer and don’t underbid — why not just get this done, draft the players you want, and move on?
So Griffin can say he’s not in a rush, and he’s probably not desperate, but it just makes a lot more sense for all sides to get this done sooner rather than later. To paraphrase John Wooden, even if Griffin isn’t going to hurry, he can still be quick.