New Orleans Pelicans president of basketball operations David Griffin isn’t beginning his new gig with the belief that Anthony Davis has played his last game for the franchise.
Instead, Griffin feels the disgruntled six-time All-Star is “open to staying.”
That would seem to be a radical departure after Davis requested a trade more than 2 1/2 months ago, but Griffin is optimistic after a recent conversation with agent Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, the firm that represents Davis.
“We have a long successful history with Klutch Sports,” Griffin said Wednesday during his introductory press conference. “Rich Paul and I have spoke about Anthony. We are both excited about what we could potentially build here.
“Rich Paul and I were part of succeeding. They will understand when I say this: ‘You are either all the way or all the way out.'”
Griffin has a track record with Paul from his time in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ organization from 2010-17, including the final three years as general manager. Paul is also LeBron James’ agent.
Griffin said he hasn’t yet spoken to Davis but will in the near future.
Owner Gayle Benson said she likes Griffin’s views on the situation and is hoping Davis will decide to remain part of the franchise.
“We certainly don’t want somebody here whose heart isn’t in it, but hopefully Anthony will have a change of heart, and if he does, we’ll welcome him back with open arms,” Benson told reporters. “We’d like for him to stay if everybody agrees to it.”
One person who will be back is coach Alvin Gentry, who is 145-183 in four seasons with the Pelicans. Gentry guided New Orleans to a first-round sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers last April, but the club was just 33-49 this past season after Davis’ trade request derailed the season.
Griffin was in the Phoenix Suns’ front office when Gentry coached that franchise to the Western Conference finals in 2010. He said Gentry’s presence was part of the reason he was intrigued by the New Orleans opening.
“My leadership style is to build a family — a family that loves each other enough to tell each other what they need to hear. Alvin and I can do that for each other,” Griffin said. “Having a partner in this process gives us an enormous leg up.”
Davis spoke to reporters last week as the regular season ended and before it was known Griffin would be hired. He said he was interested in talking to the new boss and acknowledged he might still be on the team’s roster entering the 2019-20 season.
Previous general Dell Demps was fired in February after his handling of the Davis situation prior to the trading deadline, and Danny Ferry finished the season as the interim general manager.
“Seeing what happens,” Davis told reporters. “Seeing who the Pelicans make their GM and having a conversation with that person about the future. My time here has always been great. I love playing here. It’s something that I will definitely hold in my heart forever, but the next step is waiting on the Pelicans (to fill) that GM job.”
Davis becomes a free agent in July 2020, and the Pelicans can offer him the most money with a supermax contract.
In 56 games this year, the 26-year-old Davis averaged 25.9 points, 12.0 rebounds and 3.9 assists.
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