Have you ever applied for a job that you knew you were a perfect fit for if only given that golden opportunity?
Sure, there might be more qualified candidates, people with stronger work experience in the field, but simply put, you’re the best man for the job. Problem is, no one knows it yet as a resume can tell only part of your story. If only you could display your enthusiasm, flash your incredible problem solving skills or exhibit your exceptional people skills.
Nets assistant GM Trajan Langdon could face a similar challenge this upcoming offseason as many basketball front office observers have his name on short list of candidates but might be afraid to take the leap.
Long overdue, the New Orleans Pelicans should be prioritizing a complete organizational shakeup. One of the first shoes to drop was the decision to relieve Dell Demps, the eight plus year general manager, of his duties back in February.
The team is said to be looking to bring a high-level basketball mind (or minds) into the fold that will report directly to owner Gayle Benson. For a franchise that has fairly been labeled as second-class and an afterthought to the Saints, it is important to change the management hierarchy and remove Mickey Loomis from the basketball side.
Names such as Danny Ferry (appointed interim GM), former Cavs GM David Griffin, and Boston Celtics assistant GM Mike Zarren have all been names tossed around at the outset and should rightly be considered. But there is a name that I would like to see top all lists: Trajan Langdon.
In a recent The Bird Writes round table discussion, I went into some detail about Langdon’s well versed basketball background when discussing possible future Pelicans basketball operation/general manager hires.
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.
Anthony Puccio who covers the Brooklyn Nets for SB Nation and various other platforms told me this:
“Trajan is like the Swiss Army knife of Brooklyn’s front office. He does everything from assist Sean Marks to managing the Long Island Nets to scouting players all over the world.”
“I put an emphasis on LI Nets because he’s done a phenomenal job of transitioning Brooklyn’s culture down to Long Island, and that goes for players, coaches, b-ball ops personnel, etc.”
“His experience overseas — as a player and as a scout have paid dividends for the Nets. Look at Rodions Kurucs, Brooklyn’s late second round pick in this past year’s draft.”
“Langdon identified him and took it beyond just X’s and O’s. He looks for high character players that will fit in with the culture. He understands the importance of the intangible things outside of simply being talented. There’s little doubt in my mind that he’s destined for a great future as a GM one day. He fits the mold that every rebuilding organization needs.”
Puccio also went into Langdon’s ability to speak Russian, and how that had helped him communicate with ownership. If that’s not a burning desire to improve, we may need to recalibrate the standard.
When it comes to the Pelicans, not only should the basketball operations get a facelift but the mentality must be changed. Really, a total reconstruction needs to take place. Gone should be timid leadership and stale distracted versions of franchise building.
The void should be filled with bold, passionate and fearless individuals, who possess the ability to succeed when the deck is stacked in their favor, but also when the odds are against them. New Orleans is an underdog city, and while it’s known by many for it’s ability to throw a party, what the citizens appreciate the most is those who work hard and make something out of nothing.
Sean Marks and Trajan Langdon have run a master class in how you rebuild a team when you have no assets from which to rebuild with. Remarkable job acquiring talent and picks.— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) July 13, 2018
Now while Trajan has been one of the keys in the beautiful bounce back Brooklyn story, Sean Marks is the man in charge. Could selecting Langdon be a case of high shine, low substance? Or is his wide spread basketball resume the real story to be told?
NBA source tells me if/when NOLA interviews Nets asst. GM Trajan Langdon “he’ll blow them away.”— Fletcher Mackel (@FletcherWDSU) February 17, 2019
Source: Brooklyn’s current foundation/culture should be model for Pelicans.
Added Langdon could hire head coach he’s familiar w/from CSKA Moscow days:
Ettore Messina or Becky Hammon pic.twitter.com/MR67slY8A9
How about Trajan Langdon and Becky Hammon in the same sentence? Sign me up and take my money now! Langdon could be the culture shock and the reset button that a new foundation of NOLA basketball deserves, and Hammon the vibrant young coach who is eager to prove that she not only belongs but that she’s as bit as good or even better than her peers.
The word “culture” is more than just a Migos-themed compilation. Per the English Oxford dictionary, the exact definition reads as follows: “The arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively.”
A healthy culture can help one overcome flaws. A toxic culture can do the complete opposite, crippling not just an individual but the community as a whole. To arrive at that successful equation, one must find their quan (see Jerry Maguire). Some may prefer traditional, others want groundbreaking, but the situation should set the stage for the next act.
New Orleans should absolutely respected tradition and consider adding both a President of Basketball Operations and a general manager or follow the lead of a team like the Celtics who have a guy at the top (Danny Ainge) and then an assistant GM (Mike Zarren). The groundbreaking aspects can be saved for the candidate(s) chosen and Trajan Langdon would easily fit that bill.
Either way, the Pelicans should see if the “Alaskan Assassin” possesses a feathery touch in management skills and lead a basketball front office.