According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski earlier today, Trent Redden will remain with the Los Angeles Clippers, but The New York Times’ Marc Stein brightened the mood considerable hours later when announcing Aaron Nelson is leaving the Phoenix Suns to head up the New Orleans Pelicans training staff.
Also out of Phoenix: League sources say that the Pelicans have successfully recruited noted Suns athletic trainer Aaron Nelson to make the move to New Orleans— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) April 30, 2019
David Griffin, the Pelicans Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations, targeted a couple of highly regarded names in the league soon after his hire. Griffin landed Nelson, but Redden was expected to fill one of the top spots within the New Orleans Pelicans front office.
Griffin and Redden had previously worked inside the same NBA front office with the Cleveland Cavaliers before being dismissed by owner Dan Gilbert at the conclusion of the 2016-17 season. Unlike Griffin, Redden didn’t remain unemployed within the league for very long as the Los Angeles Clippers scooped him up a few months later. He, along with Michael Winger, Lawrence Frank, Jerry West and Mark Hughes, quickly turned around the fate of Steve Ballmer’s team to the surprise of many.
In the span of less than two years, Los Angeles successfully moved on from Lob City basketball featuring Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, JJ Redick and DeAndre Jordan to a group of hard-nosed players with no superstar on the roster. Despite moving Tobias Harris before the trade deadline, the Clippers won 48 games this past season, made the playoffs as the 8th seed and took two games from the Golden State Warriors before bowing out.
Redden, who was one of two assistant general managers for the Clippers last season, has a wealth of experience despite his 35 years of age and is highly regarded as one of the youngest and brightest executive minds in the league. He would have been a fantastic compliment to Griffin as both have a good working history and prefer to stay out of the limelight as much as possible while consistently achieving positive results.
“He’s as good as there is,” Griffin told The Athletic. “The reason nobody knows him is because he was never at any point a self-promoter. He’s never wanted an agent, he’s never wanted any hype, never wanted his name in the paper. The guy just does his job. He’s the rarest. I don’t know of anyone at his talent level who has worked as hard as he has to keep himself in the background.”
Alas, it’s not to be.
Nevertheless, New Orleans is about to tackle head-on one of the biggest issues in franchise history — keeping players upright and healthy over the course of a season. If there’s anyone who can turn around the injury misfortunes of a whole organization, it would be Nelson. Per the Suns 2018-19 media guide:
Among the most well-regarded head athletic trainers in all of professional sports, Aaron Nelson serves as the Suns’ Senior Vice President of Athlete Health and Performance in his 19th season as the Suns’ head athletic trainer, only the second in team history. Nelson, who was the second-youngest head athletic trainer in the NBA when he was promoted, was originally hired as the Suns’ assistant athletic trainer in 1993. He and his staff have built the Suns into an industry-leader with a reputation for prolonging the careers of some of the game’s best.
Included in his role are the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries, athlete performance enhancement and recovery, and assisting in the travel operation of the team.
Nelson, who was named the Joe O’Toole NBA Athletic Trainer of the Year by the National Basketball Athletic Trainers Association for 2009, is certified and licensed as an athletic trainer, performance enhancement specialist (PES) and corrective exercise specialist (CES). He is a member of the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA), Arizona Athletic Trainers Association (AZATA) and National Basketball Athletic Trainers Association (NBATA). In the Spring of 2010, Nelson was appointed by Arizona’s Governor Jan Brewer to serve on the Arizona Board of Athletic Training, where he served as chairman before completing his five-year term on the board in 2015. Currently, he is a member of the SMAC (Sports Medicine Advisory Committee) for the AIA (Arizona Interscholastic Association). Nelson served as the athletic trainer for the USA Basketball Men’s Select Team that helped prepare the 2007 USA Senior National Team for the FIBA Americas Championship in Las Vegas.
Remember how much we’ve enjoyed the fleeting moments in New Orleans when key players surrounding Jrue Holiday and Anthony Davis were all healthy at the same time? Now imagine the future core staying on the court far more often and being better suited to overcome the nicks and bruises of an 82-game schedule.
First, David Griffin.
Now, Aaron Nelson.
Who else is excited about who or what is next?!