David Griffin has been clear since his first day with the New Orleans Pelicans that he believes the team can convince Anthony Davis to stay on board this summer.
Griffin reiterated this belief on Tuesday during a conference call to introduce newly hired GM Trajan Langdon. Griffin said the team plans to sit down with Davis and his agent Rich Paul in Los Angeles at some point soon.
“I think that’s the next step — really to look each other in the eye and talk about what’s important to us,” Griffin said on Tuesday. “And we’re very optimistic from previous conversations with Rich Paul, his agent, and with all of the people here that know Anthony and know what he’s about. We’re very confident that we have a compelling situation for him here.
“And if winning is what he is indeed all about, which we have every reason to believe, we feel confident that we can create — and are creating — the right environment for Anthony and frankly for high-caliber players of all types to want to be a part of. This is something that we hope creates an energy that recruits itself, and Anthony would just be one step in that process.”
While Griffin and the Pelicans may be confident, there has been no publicindication from Davis that he wants to remain with the team. The six-timeAll-Star told the Pelicans in January that he desired a trade and did not planto re-sign with the team next offseason when his contract expires.
Griffin also spent time on Tuesday talking about the team’s plan for the 2019 NBA Draft. The Pelicans beat the odds during the draft lottery to receive the No. 1 pick in this year’s Draft, which is headlined by top prospects Zion Williamson and Ja Morant. After New Orleans won the lottery, reports circulated that Williamson would need to be convinced to join the Pelicans. Griffin was quick to dispel those reports on Tuesday.
“I’m certain that’s a false narrative relative to the players that could potentially be the No. 1 pick,” Griffin said. “We’ve sat with multiple players that we’re looking at for that first pick. In fact, in the case of Zion Williamson, Alvin Gentry and I sat with he and his parents the night of the lottery. […] And Alvin and I were also together in interviewing Ja Morant in Chicago as well. And I think because we sat with those kids, who are both incredible human beings and all about all the right things, we know unequivocally that either one of them would be thrilled to join us in New Orleans. And they’re both very much excited about the concept.”
Griffin also discussed his early impressions of Pelicans owner Gayle Benson, who took control of the team after the passing of her husband, Tom, last year. Griffin credits Benson for empowering the team to pursue top-level talent — like Langdon and longtime Phoenix Suns trainer Aaron Nelson — to New Orleans
“It’s become something that it’s very clearly her baby, and the Pelicans matter immeasurably to her. And literally in all these hirings, she’s putting her money where her mouth is and she’s empowering us to go and attract the best and the brightest,” Griffin said. “And I think when you win the lottery in the midst of all those other things, it starts to really lend itself to changing a narrative.”
Griffin and Langdon previously worked together with the Cleveland Cavaliers during the championship 2015-16 season.