Danny Ainge now knows who he will be spending a lot of time on the phone with over the next couple months and it's a very familiar face for the Celtics president of basketball operations: Former Cavs general manager David Griffin. The Pelicans finalized the decision to hire Griffin last week, bringing Griffin back in the NBA world after he had taken a year off after failing to reach a contract extension with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, who does not like to offer full market deals when paying executives.
Instead of getting paid for less in Cleveland, Griffin wisely waited for a new opportunity for a year and secured a challenging new job in New Orleans but one that should provide plenty of security for him long-term. The Pelicans have already reportedly informed him that they plan on investing in more front office and scouting staff, building additional infrastructure that will be necessary in the wake of dealing away a top-10 player in the NBA.
The first order of business for Griffin will be a big one and that's figuring out where to send Davis and how exactly to approach a looming rebuild or retooling of the franchise. The Celtics are very familiar with Griffin and not just do to his days with the Cavs. Griffin worked under Ainge as his video coordinator in Phoenix during the 90s when Ainge spent a couple of years coaching before stepping down to do TV. Griffin rose through the front office ranks there until 2010, at which point he was hired by the Cavs. He was promoted to general manager in 2014 and helped to bring LeBron James and a championship to Cleveland in his five-year tenure.
Ainge actually played a role in helping to get James back to Cleveland in the summer of 2015, taking part in a three-team deal that allowed the Cavs to dump the necessary salary needed in order for them to sign James. Boston took on the salaries of Marcus Thornton and Tyler Zeller in the deal, along with a future first-round pick. Griffin obviously won't be looking to do the Celtics any favors when it comes to the Davis negotiations, but he's someone who clearly has a strong respect for Ainge and likely won't be as leaky when it comes to trade negotiations, something that couldn't be said for Dell Demps and the Lakers pursuit of Davis back in February.
The more important thing for Griffin is how exactly he wants to approach a Davis trade in terms of rebuilding assets. He actually gave a clue about that in a recent appearance on NBATV back around the trade deadline, far before the Pelicans job opened up.
New Orleans Pelicans, David Griffin: a work in progress for a while! pic.twitter.com/nymt1f0EDC
— Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson 📍 (@ScoopB) April 12, 2019
- A young player with All-Star potential
- An elite role player
- Draft picks
- Also wants to keep Jrue Holiday
Needless to say, the Celtics check all of those boxes and they could do so with a wide assortment of players.