David Griffin

David Griffin lays out why Celtics backed off in Anthony Davis trade talks

David Griffin lays out why Celtics backed off in Anthony Davis trade talks

Remember all that reported acrimony between the New Orleans Pelicans and the Los Angeles Lakers over Anthony Davis trade talks at the deadline?

Apparently none of it mattered.

Pelicans executive president of basketball operations David Griffin, who joined New Orleans in April, traded Davis to the Lakers anyway in June, leaving other suitors like the Boston Celtics out in the cold.

In a recent interview with ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Griffin suggested the Lakers were always the clear favorite to land Davis because of the big man's desire to sign with L.A. in free agency next summer.

"We were really fortunate that Rich Paul was representing LeBron James, and the Lakers need(ing) to put another star with LeBron sort of dovetailed with the fact that Anthony had picked the time he had picked to want to move on," Griffin told Wojnarowski. "There was really only one destination (L.A.) where they were confident he would sign."

That meant any other trade partner ran the risk of relinquishing key assets for just one year of Davis. The Toronto Raptors took that gamble with Kawhi Leonard last offseason and saw it pay off with an NBA title, but Griffin suggested the Celtics were less willing to take that gamble, even if landing Davis may have convinced Kyrie Irving to stay in Boston.

"We were in a situation where it was clear that Anthony was ready to move on, and it wasn't clear that he was willing to stay anywhere other than L.A.," Griffin added. "So, I think that probably played into Boston's thinking more than the Kyrie aspect of it, because Boston intended to stay elite. They wanted to compete at the highest level. I think the risk factor of him not staying put the trade conversations more in the space of those other deals we talked about."

If it's any consolation prize for the Celtics, their interest in Davis may have forced the Lakers to pay more for the superstar. Griffin added the Pelicans "had our sights set a little higher" in trade talks with L.A., in part due to the leverage other suitors like the C's provided.

Boston pivoted quickly after whiffing on Davis, replacing Kyrie Irving with Kemba Walker and adding an intriguing rookie class to the young Jayson Tatum-Jaylen Brown duo. Based on Griffin's comments, that may have been the right strategy, as it seems AD was determined to go to L.A. from the outset.

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Pelicans wanting third team in Davis trade is a good thing for Celtics

Pelicans wanting third team in Davis trade is a good thing for Celtics

BOSTON -- No one said Boston’s efforts in acquiring Anthony Davis from New Orleans was going to be easy. 

And when David Griffin, executive vice president of basketball operations for the Pelicans, was brought on board, knowing his track record of success when it comes to deal-making… you knew it was only going to get trickier and a lot tougher for Boston. 

Well, now that Griffin has reportedly made it known what his parameters for the moment are in getting a deal done for Davis — an All-Star, a young talent with All-Star potential and a pair of first-round picks — the Celtics have to feel fortunate that he also said a deal would likely involve a third team. 

That means there’s the increased potential for Boston to swing a deal for the perennial All-Star and do so without having to necessarily gut its roster. 

Now any deal involving Boston acquiring Davis will be a tough, painful one to accept because you know it’s going to involve Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown or both players. 

But by injecting a third team in the mix, Boston has a shot at coming out of this without having to subject the roster to a scorching-of-the-earth shake-up. 

There’s always some level of risk involved when making any kind of trade, regardless of how Uber-talented the player may be. 

But with Davis set to hit the free agent market in the summer of 2020, any team trading for him runs the risk of him showing up for one season and taking off to another franchise afterwards. 

But by acquiring him with fewer assets than a straight team-to-team trade would entail, his potential departure doesn’t feel as much like a potential crash landing if he leaves, but more like a turbulent descent onto the runway that we know as NBA basketball. 

The success Toronto has had with gambling on trading for Kawhi Leonard has certainly made some more confident that they have a situation with their franchise that could be enticing enough for Davis to do a one-year stint and win enough to where re-signing doesn’t seem all that far-fetched. 

But there’s one slight hiccup with that narrative.

Leonard hasn’t re-signed with the Raptors yet and may not, even after leading them to the NBA Finals and potentially the franchise’s first NBA championship.

The Raptors have done all they can to make their case as to why Leonard should stay long-term, but in the end that may not be enough. 

Teams trading for Davis will surely be better with him on the roster in terms of wins and losses, but they will also do like the Raptors did and spend an entire season walking on eggshells for fear that the slightest slight or off-handed remarks or comments taken out of context, may wind up being what makes him decide to play elsewhere. 

The Celtics did much of that this past season with Kyrie Irving, whose return didn’t have the kind of difference-making impact that Boston was hoping for. 

After advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2018 while Irving (knee) and Gordon Hayward (ankle) were out with physical ailments, both were back with the main group before getting bounced in the second round of the playoffs by Milwaukee last month. 

Both players struggled, but Irving’s problems stood out in large part because of the bravado he spoke of prior to the series, which ended with the Bucks winning four in a row after dropping Game 1 at home. 

Do the Celtics want to go through that again? 

Of course not. 

But if they can add Davis without having to gut their roster, something that seems less likely if you’re talking about adding a third team to the mix, Boston won’t hesitate to take yet another gamble on a difference-making superstar like Davis who has the potential to do what matters most to this franchise: Raise Banner 18. 

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Pelicans' David Griffin explains how history with Danny Ainge could impact trade talks

Pelicans' David Griffin explains how history with Danny Ainge could impact trade talks

Want another fascinating subplot for the Boston Celtics' pursuit of Anthony Davis?

The man in charge of trading him used to work for Danny Ainge.

New Orleans Pelicans general manager David Griffin got his NBA start as a video intern for the Suns when Ainge was the head coach in Phoenix. The two have maintained a good relationship ever since, with Griffin actually crediting the current Celtics president of basketbll operations for helping him rise through the NBA ranks.

So, does that mean Ainge -- who has a history of fleecing fellow general managers with shrewd trades -- has the inside track of striking a Davis deal with his old pal?

Griffin candidly discussed the tricky situation Tuesday on ESPN's "The Jump."

"I think to some degree you’re mindful of what his tact is, right? You’re very mindful if you’re doing this, right?" Griffin said. "You’re very aware of what everyone’s tact is and the negotiating tactics and ploys that somebody might utilize -- you’re gonna be aware of that.

"Danny’s not unique in that way, that he’s got a very specific style. What makes the situation with Danny unique is, we have the kind of relationship where we can really call each other on all that nonsense, and just sort of (say), ‘This is what it looks like.’ I think because we have that ability it makes any conversation we would have along the way a fruitful one."

Griffin actually said earlier this month he'll try to keep Davis in New Orleans, but the expectation is the Pelicans will try to move the 26-year-old this offseason, with the Celtics among their top suitors.

That means Ainge should be making at least one call this summer to Griffin, who added this great line about his former boss"

"He called me 'Freak.' He still calls me 'Freak.' We make fun of each other rather often."

If you believe Griffin, though, it'd be all business between the two on the topic of a Davis trade.

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