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New Orleans Pelicans executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin will make a pitch to star big man Anthony Davis, and Griffin thinks he can offer Davis a reason to stay.
“We’re very confident that we have a compelling situation for him here,” Griffin said Tuesday of Davis.
Griffin has already met with Rich Paul, the agent for Davis. Griffin described the conversations as positive, productive. He said he will meet with Davis soon in Los Angeles, where the team is conducting some pre-draft workouts.
Oh, yeah. About the draft. The Pelicans own the No. 1 pick. They have met with both Duke star Zion Williamson and Murray State point guard Ja Morant. They are sure to draft Williamson.
The world would love to see a frontcourt pairing of Williamson and Davis, but the question is, would Davis?
According to multiple reports, Davis is sticking by his trade request from January. But that’s perhaps because he hasn’t yet met with the new man in charge. The Pelicans will undoubtedly have a different culture under Griffin, who was known for keeping things together even amidst the typical LeBron James drama-fest in Cleveland.
Griffin, after all, was the general manager of the Cavaliers when they won the lone championship in franchise history. Some around the NBA have pegged Griffin as the ultimate basketball psychologist, someone who understands the importance of keeping the game fun and keeping the peace in the locker room. He knows how to do both and has proven it already.
He will have his work cut out for him with this Davis situation, but Griffin and the Pelicans hold all the cards. They can pitch Davis on staying, on the supermax contract only they can deliver, on the winning mindset that will surely take place with Griffin calling the shots and building the roster. If not right away, then soon.
But if Davis refuses, they can trade him for what will surely be a young and exciting haul in return, as well as perhaps a draft pick or two. When you see things clearly, you can see Davis’ value to the team benefits the team more than Davis — in spite of his trade request.
The Pelicans will win either way here. That may be Griffin’s best pitch. The Pelicans are getting Zion. The world will be watching. They will be putting an exciting product on the floor. Davis can become the leading man in a franchise that is viewed as up-and-coming and earn a bigger salary than he can anywhere else.
Or he can be traded, to maybe a better situation … but maybe not. Then he can opt out of his contract and sign wherever he wants at the end of next season. That type of freedom is great, but being somewhere else doesn’t always mean being somewhere better. As the old saying goes, wherever you go, there you are.
With or without Davis, the Pelicans are on their way to better things. If Davis can’t see that then this truly isn’t about going somewhere that’s committed to winning, as he said in January. It’s just about going somewhere different. It’s just about being traded for the sake of being traded.
That plan will work out just fine for Griffin and the Pelicans. But will it for Davis?