Building a successful NBA franchise goes beyond the talent measures of those in charge. It takes levels of cohesion and competence that surpass the roster that walks onto basketball courts, and the coaches who roam the sidelines.
New Pelicans Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin doesn’t have it all figured out just yet, but he appears to have gotten off on the right foot.
In his introductory press conference, Griffin indicated position titles were not as important to him as having as many of the right basketball figures inside one building.
I’m told potential Pelicans front office addition Trent Redden is in New Orleans this week.— Scott Kushner (@ScottDKushner) April 23, 2019
It doesn’t mean his hire is certain.
David Griffin is holding a large-scale meeting with the team’s incumbent staff later this week, which should help sort out who is in/who is out.
And if that wasn’t enough, it was also clear that Griffin wants to rebuild the Pelicans image not only within the operations department and improve say the scouting side of things but assist in everything from marketing to public relations to the medical staff.
It sure sounds like those “outrageous demands” weren’t so far fetched after all.
David Griffin: "Let's be very clear, Mrs. Benson is 100 percent committed to making this a championship caliber franchise from top to bottom. ... I made some outrageous demands in that conversation and I can assure you she's 100 percent committed."— Andrew Lopez (@_Andrew_Lopez) April 17, 2019
One of those demands point to having the authority in rewiring the aforementioned medical and training staff, which desperately needs attention. According to a Tom Haberstroh article with NBC sports dating back to January, the Pelicans medical staff has seen the second most missed games due to injury or illness over the past five years.
There’s been much discussion about the Pelicans sharing a football built medical staff for years and most of it negative. Titles like this Deadspin article: Report: “Football Guys” have broken the Pelicans and may scare Anthony Davis away add to the list of reasons why many pegged the Pelicans as an incompetently run basketball franchise. However, Griffin is looking to go where no one before him has and change the perception that several will call a reality.
Among the initial moves new GM David Griffin is attempting to make in New Orleans: League sources say he has secured permission to make a run at Aaron Nelson ... longtime point man of the Phoenix Suns' vaunted athletic training staff— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) April 26, 2019
That point man, the Suns head athletic trainer Aaron Nelson, is one of the most respected names in the business. Nelson has been with the Suns for 19 years and has a plethora of references for how well his training staff has operated. Those physical examples of rehabilitation and prevention include the likes of Grant Hill, Steve Nash, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Shaquille O’Neal among many others.
Plucking Nelson would be a major coup for a organization looking to change every poor breathing element and detail inside their doors. You’ve heard noise about the Pelicans wanting to take action like this before, but they never fell through.
No matter the case or the market, there’s an overall message of structure to be conveyed. Too often New Orleans focused on building a basketball roster that lacked the foundation of smaller details surrounding an organization — which become essential as time passes. They neglected several areas that the Saints football team would never dare.
Gayle Benson and her new basketball sheriff David Griffin appear well on their way to making it abundantly clear that those days are over. And trust me, that is equally as beautiful and important as retaining any All-NBA talent.