David Griffin is David Griffin’s biggest problem.
Not only have the (1-11) New Orleans Pelicans been a disaster this season, but their Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations is out here trying to fight former coaches. Beyond the way that Griffin has handled Zion Williamson and the 85 career games he’s been limited to, according to reports, Griffin and former Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry got into it after a recent game between Sacramento and New Orleans as Gentry is now a member of the Kings coaching staff.
Apparently, words were exchanged and the two had to be separated.
Sidebar: Why does nobody in this league throw a real punch anymore?
The Pelicans are imploding and all signs point to Griffin as the reason why. After Wednesday night’s loss to Oklahoma City, New Orleans head coach Willie Green lit into his team after they accumulated five technical fouls in the second quarter.
Frustration is contagious within that franchise:
“It’s not the losing streak. It’s not one quarter. It’s our approach to this game,” Green said. “There were moments in the game where we just didn’t have guys who didn’t compete hard enough for me. Hard enough for our team. That’s a non-negotiable for me. That’s the deal. That’s who we are. As the leader of this team, I can’t have that. I can’t have guys on the floor if they aren’t going to give 110%.”
When Griffin got the job many thought he was going to be the one to turn things around for the Pelicans, especially with the combo of Williamson and Brandon Ingram. However, due to injury, the pair have barely played together, and the front office has done a poor job in putting the proper pieces around them. And one of those former complimentary players — who was actually good — tried to warn folks about Griffin.
“Griff basically says to me, ‘Come down for a month. If you still want to be traded, I give you my word, I’ll get you to a situation that you like.’ We had four subsequent conversations,” JJ Redick said about how Griffin handled their talks about his potential trade destination. “Again, my agent talked to them. But I’m talking to Griff directly. Griff and I had a personal relationship. Obviously, he did not honor his word.”
Redick eventually wound up in Dallas, when the alleged original plan was to send him to a team closer to his family on the east coast.
“I don’t think you’re going to get honesty from that front office, just objectively speaking ,” said Redick. “It’s not something where I would expect certainly the agents that worked on this with me to ever trust that front office again.”
Oddly enough, despite the Pelicans’ dismal product on the court, and what’s going on between the team’s VP and former coaches and players, the initial reason people started looking at Griffin sideways is that he chose to open his mouth and say stupid things. In a 2019 interview with Sports Illustrated, he discussed how he was “miserable” trying to put together championship-level rosters with LeBron James and the Cavs, and that it was “not fun.” He also revealed that he decided he was leaving after they won the 2016 Finals because “I don’t think [James is] the same animal anymore about winning.”
Culturally, I’ve always wanted to raise a family as a team,” Griffin said at the time. The Pelicans have a 62-94 record since the 2019-2020 season.
When things get this bad, the team owner — if they even care — usually starts looking at what is and isn’t working. And if you’re wondering what the common denominator to all the drama in New Orleans is, know that it starts and ends with David Griffin.