Hiring David Griffin is proper first step toward relevance for Pelicans
The Pelicans got it right.
That’s the general consensus from national media who know David Griffin well during his time as the general manager of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Griffin has agreed to terms to run the Pelicans basketball operations. He made several good moves in Cleveland.
Although he inherited a young and talented LeBron James, he also put his stamp on the club with trades, like the one that netted Kevin Love.
Griffin also showed some guts. In the championship season of 2015-2016, he fired head coach David Blatt despite a 30-11 record at the time of his dismissal. Under Ty Lue, Cleveland caught fire and defeated Golden State in 7 games to win the NBA Finals.
The national folks can elaborate on what Griffin did and did not do as the GM of the Cavs. Here’s what Gayle Benson and team president Dennis Lauscha did. – bring a new voice into the organization. It was as desperately needed as a cool front in New Orleans in mid-August.
The Pelicans needed that breath of fresh air to evaluate, well, everything. Griffin will get a chance to make the Anthony Davis trade, he will select the Pelicans’ pick in the lottery and he will evaluate the coaching staff, led by head coach Alvin Gentry.
The hiring of Griffin is also good for public perception. Season ticket holders and potential season ticket buyers will embrace a fresh start with a proven commodity.
The latter group has suffered long enough, under a new patch work scheme every year to somehow try to milk 40-plus wins out of the roster and sneak into the playoffs.
What the Pelicans need is a long term plan, even one that includes willingness to get worse before we get a lot better.
I keep hearing that basketball will never work in New Orleans long term. However, this franchise and the Jazz in the 70’s had one thing in common other than their home city. They all lost a lot more than they won.
Fans who pack the Superdome for Saints games don’t remember what it was like before Katrina. They don’t remember that preseason game against Baltimore, on the Thursday before the storm, when about 20,000 actually attended.
A waiting list, even for the now coveted Saints season ticket, was unheard of before they started winning with regularity.
Pelicans basketball can work, and New Orleans can support it if it does.
It won’t be easy though. Guaranteed contracts in the NBA make mistakes more costly.
An overpaid Solomon Hill is still on the roster. In football, he would have been waived, and the Saints would have suffered the cap hit.
Nothing against Hill, but his production has not matched his check. Yet that happens quite a bit in the NBA, and a GM often has to live with the mistake.
The key for Griffin is to understand that New Orleans is a small market city that needs a philosophy of judiciously building, while looking for reasonable risk to accelerate the building process. That requires a different operating procedure than the Pelicans have employed.
The first part, Pelicans management got correct.
A qualified GM was hired from the outside, without ties to the organization, and then given the keys to the store. And away we go.
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WGNO Sports Director/WGSO 990am
Ed is a New Orleans native, born at Baptist Hospital. He graduated Rummel High School, class of 1975, and subsequently graduated from Loyola University. Ed started in TV in 1977 as first sports intern at WVUE Channel 8. He became Sports Director at KPLC TV Channel 7 in Lake Charles in 1980. In 1982 he was hired as sports reporter…