The New Orleans Pelicans were set to transition smoothly into one of the most intriguing rebuilds in the NBA when they dealt Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers two years ago, and replacing the franchise superstar with first overall pick Zion Williamson. Despite this, David Griffin and the front office has somehow already failed the former Duke phenom and the entire organization, as the team’s window with Zion in tow may be on the verge of closing before it ever fully opened.
David Griffin Has Failed The Pelicans Rebuild Before It Ever Began
David Griffin inherited Lebron and Zion and talmbout some damn "i gave him all the answers to the test and he still failed"
— Trill Withers (@TylerIAm) November 11, 2021
Griffin Has All The Answers To The Test, Apparently
Griffin is on his third head coach in New Orleans in as many years. He fired Gentry after the 2019-20 season, and replaced him with Stan Van Gundy, only to replace Van Gundy with now Willie Green, a first-year head coach. Gentry is now Luke Walton’s assistant with the Sacramento Kings. Griffin and Gentry reportedly had an exchange in a recent outing that resulted in the two having to be physically separated.
In September, when asked about Gentry, Griffin had stated, “I gave Alvin the answers to the test, and he still fails”, according to Christian Clark of NOLA.com. This is in reference to the team drafting Zion Williamson, while also having a core of Lonzo Ball, Jrue Holiday, Brandon Ingram, and Steven Adams. While the talent was certainly there, a few other factors weighed in that hindered New Orleans’ progression, notably Zion’s injury that held him to just 24 games his rookie year.
In the exchange, Gentry was reported to have said, “You must not have given Stan the answers to the test, either”, according to multiple sources. Regardless of who had the answers or not, the Pelicans have not lived up to their expectations, having failed their franchise superstar, and through poor judgement by the front office.
Wasting The Anthony Davis Trade Haul
While David Griffin received plenty of credit for the haul he got from the Lakers in the Anthony Davis trade, it felt like a relatively pre-determined exchange made by Twitter nerds that required the front office to step in and make official. The organization also dealt Jrue Holiday a year later, for another substantial haul. So to combine the two deals, here is what the Pelicans acquired, versus what they gave up.
Traded: Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday
Both trades were supposed to set up what would be one of the smoothest rebuilds the NBA has seen. However, that has been far from the case. The Pelicans were not at all keen on holding onto Lonzo Ball, and Griffin traded him to the Chicago Bulls for Devonte Graham, who was the Charlotte Hornets‘ third best point guard on the roster behind LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier.
Lonzo was arguably the most ideal point guard to play alongside guys like Zion and Ingram, as we are now seeing his elite playmaking on display in a much larger spotlight in Chicago. Yet, Griffin saw no value, and traded away one of his best assets from the Davis deal.
Although Davis and Holiday were both on different timelines than Griffin and the Pelicans organization, both were able to win an NBA Championship in the first season on their new team, and the Pelicans now see themselves at the bottom of the league-wide standings.
What Does The Future Of The David Griffin And The Pelicans Look Like?
David Griffin is absolutely on the hot seat, as the team is in a helpless position at the time being. Call it a silver lining, but Zion Williamson is yet to make his season debut this year, as he is out with a foot injury and is still “weeks away” from a return, per Brian Windhorst of ESPN. Depending on how long he is out for, the Pelicans may elect to punt this season altogether, but it will more than likely be very ugly as it plays out, and could lead to the end of this rebuild before it fully begins.
This saga has been ruining the talent of Brandon Ingram, an All-Star who was dealt to New Orleans as a piece, and has become a household name in the league. While the team got a load of draft picks in their latest trade deals, is it worth for Ingram to stick around to watch it play out?
As we have seen time and time again, the Pelicans, or New Orleans as a whole, have been unable to keep talent on the roster. The top prospects they draft come into this organization, they are not properly set up with the right talent and coaching, and they leave to much better situations. We saw that with Chris Paul, we saw it with Anthony Davis, and we may be seeing it now with Zion Williamson.
Zion Williamson’s Future
The New Orleans Pelicans are in significant danger of watching their future blow up in their face yet again. In June, reports emerged of some of Zion’s family wanting the 21 year old out of New Orleans. Zion himself has publicly spoken highly of playing in New York, not the Knicks necessarily, but in New York. However, rumors swirled the internet that Zion was disappointed that the Knicks were not the winners of the draft lottery and the Pelicans were.
If Zion is able to make an All-NBA Team this year or next, he qualifies for the super-rookie max extension. However, if he is actually focused on leaving, he could very well also force his way out of New Orleans and leave the money on the table. Zion is still on his rookie deal, and although this is not a brand new precedent, it is certainly a unique situation given Williamson’s unique skill-set.
David Griffin cannot afford to let this generational talent slip between his fingers, as the Pelicans organization with its past stars. We have seen them go on to have success elsewhere, and Zion is more than likely to see plenty of success in his career.
In summary, the main question I have regarding the David Griffin saga in New Orleans is: What part of Manhattan do you think Zion wants to live in?
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