When the Lakers were negotiating a potential trade for Pelicans center Anthony Davis back in February, Brandon Ingram was considered one of many trade assets, which included Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball and a slew of draft picks.
The former No. 2 pick put together a strong stat line this year, averaging 16.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists over 32.8 minutes per game while shooting 47.5 percent from the floor and 30.9 percent from 3-point range. He eventually shut down in March due to thrombosis in his shoulder.
While former New Orleans general manager Dell Demps didn’t pull the trigger on the mega-trade, his potential replacement might. Marc Stein reports that the Pelicans have interviewed former Cavs GM David Griffin, who helped form the core that led Cleveland to its first NBA title in 2016.
Golden State’s Larry Harris, Brooklyn’s Trajan Langdon, Houston’s Gersson Rosas and Washington’s Tommy Sheppard are also under consideration. Acting Pelicans GM Danny Ferry is also on the list of candidates.
Why would Griffin, a current NBA TV analyst, be more likely to negotiate for Ingram and company in a trade? He’s been pretty open about his admiration for the pieces the Lakers have on the current roster. He even went as far to say that the Lakers “don’t need to land the plane of Anthony Davis” back in late February.
“You need to maximize your asset value all the time, and no harm befalls you as long as you don’t use that space poorly. So it doesn’t have to have a name attached to it, their next asset doesn’t have to be Anthony Davis. If they remain flexible they’ll be able to accumulate the right assets for the good of the franchise.”
The last deal before the Lakers pulled out at the trade deadline was Davis for Ingram, Ball, Kuzma, Ivica Zubac (now with the Clippers), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Josh Hart and two first-round picks. Griffin talked about the situation at length on NBA TV’s Gametime, where he was clear that Ingram and company should still be on the table with talks begin again in the offseason.
“That deal doesn’t have to change in the offseason,” he said on Feb. 5. “One reason New Orleans doesn’t have to feel any urgency is that none of the pieces in that offer will be off the table in the offseason…none of those pieces expire, none of those pieces you have to act on quickly.
Kurt Helins of NBC Sports states that Griffin’s potential role as the Pelicans’ GM would be to convince owner Gayle Benson and executive Mickey Loomis to relinquish control over Davis for solid pieces a la Ingram.
Whoever gets the GM job, a big part of it will be managing Benson and Loomis. For example, there are reports the Pelicans’ brass refuses to trade Davis to the Lakers (his preferred destination, based on the effort by his agent to get him there at the trade deadline). If the Lakers have the best offer — and it is possible the new GM values players such as Brandon Ingram or Lonzo Ball higher than Demps — then the Pelicans should take it. What matters in New Orleans is the return, not who gets Davis. It’s the GM’s job to help the owner and her advisors to see past any frustrations with the process.
The desire to bring Ingram and others to New Orleans is there with Griffin, and he’s a current favorite for the GM position. It’s almost as if he’s been waiting on the sidelines in the television world waiting for this opportunity to present itself.