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Report: Presence of David Griffin made a huge difference in Pelicans’ Anthony Davis trade negotiations with Lakers

Anthony Davis, David Griffin

The Los Angeles Lakers acquired Anthony Davis on Saturday afternoon … more than four months after they first targeted him before the February trade deadline.

Though it may seem difficult to remember, the Lakers’ offer in February was eerily similar to the one that eventually sent Davis to L.A. on Saturday.

One of the major differences was that the Lakers were now in possession of the No. 4 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. The other, as it seems, is that David Griffin — and not Dell Demps — is now in charge of basketball operations for the New Orleans Pelicans.

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN detailed how the negotiations between Demps and former Lakers president Magic Johnson were never of any consequence:

Now, calling those discussions in February “negotiations” is a bit of a stretch. The Pelicans were never serious about dealing with the Lakers then. They didn’t like being forced into this position by Davis and his representative, Rich Paul. And they probably weren’t going to let former general manager Dell Demps make this big of a decision anyway.

So the Lakers — really just Johnson, because Demps wouldn’t talk to Pelinka — would call and Demps would write names on the board without giving them any feedback. Those names would leak publicly and do damage to the Lakers’ team chemistry. But eventually, Johnson and the Lakers got the hint and stopped banging up against what had become an incredibly self-destructive wall.

However, both the Pelicans and Lakers endured an extremely frustrating close to the season, and upon Griffin’s hiring, things were set in motion:

Said one source close to the negotiations, “The biggest difference this time was David Griffin [the new Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations]. He wasn’t involved before. He could negotiate frankly and fairly.”

Griffin is no stranger to pulling off big deals. He was general manager of the Cavaliers and the architect behind the trade that sent former No. 1 overall picks Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett to Minnesota in exchange for Kevin Love, a move that would help the Cavs win an NBA title in 2016.

This time, Griffin finds himself on the rebuilding end of the spectrum.