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List of favorite candidates to fill President of Basketball Operations role in New Orleans Pelicans front office

From Trajan Langdon to David Griffin to Troy Weaver to a few surprises!

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Cleveland Cavaliers Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Name your favorite candidate to fill the role of the President of Basketball Operations for the New Orleans Pelicans.

Jason: Danny Ferry

Honestly, I don’t think the Pelicans have to go reach for some flashy hire to fill the President of Basketball Operations role. We have a well qualified candidate that managed to make the Atlanta Hawks win more than 60 games and become the number one seed over LeBron James already on the staff. Danny Ferry, albeit he did have a disgraceful exit from his tenure with the Hawks, is more than qualified to take the reigns of POBO. He has shown success in a smaller basketball market and can help reshape the Pelicans’ culture.

Kevin: Shareef Abdur-Rahim

A few names intrigue me — Mike Zarren, Wayne Embry and Sachin Gupta are very exciting targets; however, I’m also very much intrigued by Shareef Abdur-Rahim. Abdur-Rahim is currently serving as president of the G-League, making him very adept at handling the business end and marketing arm of the New Orleans Pelicans. Shareef has also has general management experience with the Reno Big Horns and as assistant GM with the Sacramento Kings, giving him experience in personnel as well. I would consider him for the team president position to be partnered with a strong general manager.

Chris: Trajan Langdon

Mike Zarren is the pick I’ve seen targeted. And while you have to respect his experience and time underneath Danny Ainge to go with his focus on analytics within the Boston organization — he’s a close second on my list.

Trajan Langdon is my guy.

There isn’t a candidate who screams New Orleans more than Langdon. He is the assistant general manager to former Pelicans/Hornets big man Sean Marks, who together have rebuilt the Brooklyn Nets from rock bottom with a number of exciting talents. While Langdon lacks a long trail of executive experience, “The Alaskan Assassin” brings a different kind of flare and swagger.

Trajan Langdon #21

Langdon was a former McDonald’s All American before playing his college ball at Duke. He went on to become the 11th overall pick in the 1999 NBA Draft, and once his playing career was finished, he served as a scout for the San Antonio Spurs and also saw time in Cleveland’s front office.

His time spent at each level of basketball is a rare asset for a candidate to possess. That perspective and relatability helps build relationships as it is bound to earn a level of respect both within a front office and the players in the locker room.

Langdon’s basketball career also exposed him to great disappointment as his professional career never reached predicted lofty expectations. That level of adversity should be an attractive teaching tool along the way, especially in New Orleans and for the Pelicans. Players respond differently to those that they know have been through similar trials and tribulations.

It is uncertain if he’s truly ready to have a position of his own, but something tells me it’s going to be really hard for anyone to sell themselves better in the long run. Langdon’s hire could be an aggressive move and be a part of several resounding statements. But is his basketball background, short success in Brooklyn and ability to relate to both young and old enough to beat out more experienced candidates?

Mike: Danny Ferry

I think it would make a lot of sense to keep Danny Ferry in house and allow him to take the reins of the front office moving forward. Most of this reasoning can be understood by reading Oleh’s piece on the possibility, but I mostly just believe that the Pelicans transactions since Ferry’s arrival have trended in the right direction, and that bailing on him as a candidate just because of his association with a failed process would be shortsighted.

Jamile: Mike Zarren

This is tough, yet there are a lot of great candidates to consider. I’m sure I won’t be the only one but Boston Celtics Assistant GM Mike Zarren would be my choice should he be interested in the job. Zarren has an impressive cross section of experiences to draw from that would make him an excellent team President in my opinion.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

After graduating from Harvard Law School, Zarren likely had tons of lucrative employment opportunities but instead decided to join the Celtics as an unpaid intern. Zarren helped the Celtics build out their analytics and player evaluation departments while working under Danny Ainge. In addition, Zarren is the Boston Celtics Lead Counsel on both the basketball and business sides. Someone with such a combination of passion for the game, understanding of cutting edge analytics, and business acumen is tailor made for a President of Basketball Operations job.

I would be fine with Zarren being hired as the POBO and hiring his own GM or giving him both titles. In fact, it might take offering Zarren that type of power to actually close the deal. Some within NBA circles feel that Zarren, a Massachusetts native, may be a Celtics lifer; however, Danny Ainge doesn’t appear ready to step aside anytime soon so perhaps Zarren would see the Pelicans as an opportunity to move on.

Preston: David Griffin

Mike Zarren is my favorite for the position of general manager, but I fear he’s not yet far along in his career to take on the responsibility of Director of Basketball Operations. For our purposes, the best candidate to replace Demps/Ferry and assume the position would be David Griffin.

Griffin began his NBA career in 1993 with the Phoenix Suns, and was dubbed senior vice president of basketball operations in 2007. In 2010, the Cavaliers elected to make him their Vice President of Basketball Operations Once LeBron James returned to Cleveland. Griffin helped guide the Cavaliers to three consecutive Finals appearances from 2014-2017, and many attribute credit to him for keeping the peace between LeBron and Kyrie Irving for as long as he did.

The Anthony Davis trade will be the most important move in Pelicans’ history. Griffin has the pedigree and experience to wield power from both positions, and to deal with Rich Paul in getting the best possible return for New Orleans.

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Cleveland Cavaliers Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

David Fisher: David Griffin

Right now David Griffin is my favorite to run the franchise. Griffin has a litany of mistakes on his resume that I’m sure others will pick through.

Griffin has accumulated a variety of basketball experience from different front offices with different ownership groups. He worked for the Suns when they were owned by the Colangelo’s, kept with the Suns when Sarver took ownership and brought in Steve Kerr as GM, and from there worked for the Cavaliers. That a lot of experience to draw from and he hasn’t been pigeonholed into one franchise’s approach like Mike Zarren (who has only worked for the Celtics) or Trajan Langdon (who has only worked beneath the Spurs tree).

That’s a lot of time to see how a wide variety of teams work. Griffin’s experience with the Suns while Alvin Gentry was there could facilitate Gentry’s possible move into a front office/advisor role if he’s replaced as coach. While at Phoenix, Griffin ascended to Vice President of Basketball Operations. The Suns were considered to have the best medical staff in the league during his time there. Griffin also has experience with the Cavs post-LeBron (in the same Vice President of Basketball Operations) in a rebuilding stage and at the pinnacle of the sport as the general manager after LeBron James returned. Yes, there were some awful contracts during that time. Mistakes are sadly one of the great teachers. I’d rather a GM who has already made those mistakes and has learned from them than one with a barren record as the lead decision maker like Langdon or Zarren.

Charlie: Troy Weaver

If we’re talking dream candidates, I still think the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Troy Weaver is the most desirable option. Weaver has built an enviable reputation around the league and has been a huge part of building the Thunder into the consistent contender they are today. Giving Weaver full control of basketball operations and allowing him to bring on an assistant GM like Trajan Langdon perhaps would be a very similar setup to what’s been done in OKC with Sam Presti and himself thus far.

David Grubb: Troy Weaver

Oklahoma City Vice President of Basketball Operations Troy Weaver has been a big part of the Thunder’s success since joining Sam Presti there in 2008, and he should be one of the favorites to land the Pelicans’ job. New Orleans needs a complete structural overhaul, and Weaver has the training and experience to help lead that kind of effort.

Weaver has been an assistant coach on the collegiate level before working as head scout and director of players personnel for the Utah Jazz. With the Thunder, he’s helped to oversee roster development, draft preparation, free agency, and the team’s summer league roster.

He is one of the most respected talent evaluators in the league, ​especially for his “​feel for whether a player’s emotional makeup conforms to the team culture the Thunder hold as sacrosanct,” according to ​a 2017 write up​ by Kevin Arnovitz.

That’s an important quality to have in the post-AD era. The Pelicans need an aura cleansing after this whole episode.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Miami Heat Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Oleh: Shane Battier

I’ve mentioned my approval for Troy Weaver, Mike Zarren, and others with strong analytical backgrounds in the past, yet there’s a new name who tops my list: Shane Battier. The two-time NBA champion is currently the Heat’s director of basketball development and analytics, but admittedly, there’s a strong presumption Battier is not ready for a top tier position as he’s only worked for two years inside a front office. I’m looking past that deficiency because I feel he’s so uniquely qualified in other aspects that a resume short on executive experience should be overlooked in his case.

In addition to a long illustrious basketball career that resulted in reaching the pinnacle on multiple levels, Battier is an out-of-the-box thinker who has always exhibited fantastic problem solving skills. During his playing days, he realized he was far from the most athletic and skilled guy so he poured every waking moment into preparation. Battier always went into battle with a precise and thoroughly researched game plan. He was big on analytics, video, you name it — anything to get an edge on the competition. This combination of intelligence and passion is an incredibly attractive quality for a top manager, but the good characteristics don’t stop there.

Not being the best player but carrying around the biggest will to win around, Battier learned to maximize his fit alongside LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Additionally, Battier is acutely aware of the importance of team chemistry, specifically cohesion among teammates: “Teammates can never be too connected. Every connection strengthens the familiarity within a team. Ask the Warriors — cohesiveness wins.”

Ultimately, putting together a roster of talented basketball players is key for any GM, but building a great team involves so much more than sticking together a bunch of guys who can fill up a boxscore. Battier may be light on experience, but everything I’ve read and watched about this guy makes me believe he has the wherewithal to build a great front office, produce an overachieving winner on the court and form a special bond with the city of New Orleans.