If you’re into NBA conspiracy theories, here’s one that’s circulating. David Griffin was hired in New Orleans as executive vice president of basketball operations in order to facilitate an Anthony Davis trade to the Lakers.
It sounds far fetched until you start to consider the parties involved. The Lakers are set to hire Tyronn Lue as their new head coach, and Lue is extremely tight with Griffin as the two won a title together in Cleveland three years ago.
“I love Ty Lue like a brother,” Griffin said on NBA TV last fall. “I’m where I’m at because people know my name because we were champions together. Ty did that taking over the middle of a season. If there’s no Ty Lue in 2016 there’s no title. I think it’s clear with what LeBron James and Kevin Love said [about Lue]. They feel the same way as well. He was exactly the right piece at the right time.”
Then there is the awkward history between the NBA having owned the Pelicans and the current unrest with the ownership in New Orleans. Gayle Benson, the widow of Tom Benson, and the city of New Orleans have gone all in on getting the Saints to stay in the city as it was announced this week that the team and the state are closing in on a new lease on the SuperDome. The Pelicans are viewed as the red-headed step-child in the Big Easy and any updates on the Smoothie King Center aren’t coming anytime soon. The building is now 20 years old, hardly ancient but in need of a makeover nonetheless.
The NBA could very well put the pressure on Benson to sell, despite Benson recently having said that she has no intention of selling the Pelicans.
Adam Silver, who was still deputy commissioner when the NBA sold to Tom Benson, desperately wants to revive the SuperSonics in Seattle. There are now weekly rumors that the Sonics will be back within the next six or seven years as Seattle city leaders are starting to get serious about the proposition.
Silver was furious with Magic Johnson and the Lakers during the whole Davis fiasco earlier this year, and another tin foil hat scenario is that Silver actually forced Magic to step down. The whole idea is that two of the three main parties involved in the Davis situation from earlier this year are now gone as Dell Demps and Magic are no longer employed. And now there are figures – Griffin and Lue – in place so that a potential blockbuster would go much more smoothly.
But again, this is just a conspiracy theory.
There are bound to be more teams this summer that are interested in pulling off a Davis trade, in addition to the Lakers, including the Celtics and potentially the Bulls, Knicks, and even the Sixers. If the Bulls or Knicks do not win the lottery and subsequently Zion Williamson then there will be immediate pressure to flip the pick for something bigger, particularly in New York if the team goes into a win-now scenario with Kevin Durant.
As for the Sixers, if they lose Jimmy Butler in free agency there will be pressure in Philly to get a superstart replacement. The issue here is that Philly’s trade asset cupboard is almost bare and it would likely not have enough to compete with the Lakers, Celtics, Knicks or Bulls to make a move.