Elfrid Payton joined sports radio host Scott Prather on ESPN 1420 yesterday to discuss a variety of topics. But before talking about his upcoming free agency and Aaron Nelson, the Pelicans new Vice President of Player Care and Performance, Payton touched on the bittersweet feelings about last season. One thing he immediately made clear: Anthony Davis’ trade request did not catch teammates by surprise.
“Honestly, it didn’t impact us at all in the locker room,” said Payton. “AD is a great person. Obviously, everybody has an opinion on what someone should do, but at the beginning of the season — before training camp had even started, he had told us that it was a possibility that something like that may be happening.”
Anthony Davis and his camp had discussions about potentially asking for a trade well before the Pelicans 2018-19 season had begun. Remember when he tried to assure onlookers during the last Media Day event that switching from Thad Foucher to Rich Paul of Klutch Sports was all about helping him become the most dominant player in the league?
I’m sure most of us will always wonder whether the Pelicans ever even had a chance of putting together a successful season, let alone proving to Davis that staying in New Orleans was the best thing for his career. Either way, what’s done is done. More importantly, lots of hope now sits on the horizon because of how Davis chose to play his cards.
Davis had an escape plan in place, but instead of his departure decimating the franchise for years afterwards, New Orleans arrow remains pointed firmly upwards because of the decisive steps taken by an initially embarrassed Gayle Benson. The dominos have been spectacular: the hirings of David Griffin, Trajan Langdon, Swin Cash, coming to terms on an AD trade with the Lakers where the return was better than it should have been considering the reluctance levels by other teams, and winning the draft lottery and selecting Zion Williamson less than two weeks ago.
The Pelicans have compiled one of the most exciting young cores in the league, and they still have over $30 million of cap space to bring to the table when free agency begins tomorrow at 6 p.m. ET. Included among their decisions is likely how to fill the role of backup point guard behind Lonzo Ball. Well, it certainly sounds like Elfrid is an option.
“I would love to be here in New Orleans, back home again, but this is a business,” said Payton. “I’ve got to do what’s best for me. Obviously, the Pelicans have shown interest, but you know, I just got to sit down, listen and go into these meetings and just make the best decision possible.”
Payton went on to state that he couldn’t divulge just how much interest he is garnering from other teams around the league at this point, but he did little to hide the fact that he would really like to return to New Orleans. Despite the injury-plagued year, Elfrid made a lot of positive memories.
“Amazing. Amazing. It was amazing. It was better than I had anticipated.”
For more, listen to Scott’s interview of Elfrid at the link below!