The New Orleans Pelicans are now set up to be Zion Williamson’s franchise to lift, and No. 1 pick could ease potential trade of Anthony Davis. His stance on a trade has not changed, league sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) May 15, 2019
The Pelicans won the lottery for the second time in their history, and the first since 2012, when they selected Davis out of Kentucky.
If Davis is indeed traded, the Pelicans will at least console themselves not only with whatever assets they’ll receive in return, but most especially presumptive top prospect Zion Williams. The electrifying college basketball star amazed with his rim-rattling athleticism during his lone season at Duke.
Following the Draft Lottery, Pelicans vice president of basketball operations David Griffin was asked if he was looking forward to talking to Davis and his agent, Rich Paul, in the wake of the Lottery success.
“No more so than before. We have reason to believe that’s something that is attractive,” said Griffin, who was hired by the Pelicans in mid-April. “And if I’m Anthony Davis, I’m skeptical obviously. He’s wanted to win this whole time and he felt compelled to try to win elsewhere. I think if you look at the totality of where this organization is and where we’re going, we feel very strongly that we’re going be the environment he wants to be part of. And if we’re not, that’s fine; we can deal with it from there. But I’m looking at this believing that there’s no reason he wouldn’t want to win with us, because that’s what we do. It’s who we are. And I think culturally we’re about all the same things.
“I don’t think it’ll play into it hugely. If he was open-minded to believing that we could build a winner around him, he’s more open-minded to it. … We’re going to build something that we hope everyone wants to be part of and I believed very strongly Anthony’s going to want to be part of that whether we win this or not. I think when you have elite talent, that tends to attract other truly elite talent.”
Additionally, Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry remains confident that the Pelicans’ potentially drafting Williamson could sway Davis to stay put.
“Guys, the one thing you got to understand is [Davis] is still on our roster,” Gentry said Tuesday, per ESPN.com. “He is on our roster. All of that will take care of itself. I’m not worried about it. I know Griff has some plans to talk to him, and it will be fine.”
Davis, 26, initially asked to be traded in late January, midway through his seventh season with the Pelicans. He holds a player option that will allow him to reach unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2020.
At his introductory news conference last month, Griffin was hoping that the long relationship he shares with Paul might help him sway Davis to rescind his trade request. Griffin was Cleveland’s general manager when LeBron James — who also is represented by Paul — was with the Cavaliers and led them to the franchise’s only NBA title.
Pelicans owner Gayle Benson said in April that she liked Griffin’s outlook on Davis.
“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 said. “We’d like for him to stay if everybody agrees to it.”
The six-time All-Star is averaging 23.7 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in 466 career games. The Pelicans have reached the playoffs just twice during his tenure, with one series victory.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.