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New Orleans Pelicans set to hire David Griffin as VP of basketball operations and orchestrate Anthony Davis trade

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A surprise to some but Griffin’s previous experience fits in well with moving the Pelicans organization forward.

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

It hasn’t been formally announced, but considering the source, it appears as if former Cleveland Cavaliers general manager David Griffin will be named executive Vice-President of basketball operations.

The two sides appear to be in final negotiations of a contract.

Griffin’s title is noteworthy for two reasons; it’s the title previously held by Mickey Loomis, indicating that the separation of the football and basketball brain trust on Airline Drive was more than just talk, and it leaves open the possibility that a general manager could be added to the hierarchy at some point.

For observers this is a sudden change in direction, after all indications were that interim general Danny Ferry was the clear front runner for the job.

Speculation was that an announcement of Ferry’s hiring would come as early as today for the better part of this past week.

There was an announcement but not the one that was expected.

Just moments after Wojnarowski announced that Ferry had withdrawn from consideration, came word that the job was Griffin’s. His hiring gives instant credibility to the Pelicans after a season of turmoil and prior to a franchise-defining summer.

With Griffin as GM, the Cavaliers won 161 games from 2014-2017 and made the NBA Finals all three seasons, winning the 2016 NBA Championship.

Before that, Griffin spent 17 years in the Phoenix Suns organization.

His first order of business will be restructuring the Pels’ front office to make it more competitive with the league’s best.

“The hiring of Griffin, 46, is expected to come with an upgrade in staffing and resources committed to the franchise, sources said. Griffin has been particular in selecting his next job after leaving Cleveland, pulling out of searches in New York and Philadelphia when the circumstances didn’t feel like a fit.“ wrote Wojnarowski, citing unnamed sources.

The issue of the level of ownership commitment to making the Pelicans a world-class operation is one Gayle Benson has sought to tackle as the franchise was beset with criticism over the years that it played second fiddle to the Saints.

Someone of Griffin’s stature in the league wouldn’t have taken the job without some assurance of autonomy.

What this means for head coach Alvin Gentry is uncertain. Gentry was involved in the interview process and has a relationship with Griffin going back to their time in Phoenix. He’s also held in very high esteem by Ms. Benson and other higher ups.

For some time the belief has been that Gentry would survive a regime change in some capacity no matter who was hired. Now the question becomes whether or not that survival includes another year on the sidelines or in the front office.

Without question, Griffin’s biggest task will be orchestrating the Anthony Davis trade. Asked earlier in the 2018-19 season about his thoughts on the situation and how he would handle negotiations, Griffin’s line of thinking closely mirrored that of most fans.

But having an idea and deal are two very different things. The NBA Draft Lottery is just over a month away, and the outcome will have a huge impact on the value of offers coming the Pelicans’ way.

For better or worse, Griffin will be judged by this one deal every day of his time in New Orleans. He can’t afford to hit a double here; Griffin and the Pelicans need to hit a home run, even if it just barely clears the wall.

The allure of the job isn’t hard to see, and the challenge of turning the Pelicans into an annually competitive franchise may not be as difficult as it has been made to look.

New Orleans has financial flexibility, one cornerstone player in place in Jrue Holiday, and the possibility of multiple lottery picks over the next couple of years.

Arguing against the hire of Griffin won’t be easy to do. He has the requisite resumé and caché. It remains to be seen whether he will be the one to lead the New Orleans Pelicans out of the wilderness. But once again, hopes are high in the Crescent City.