Make no mistake, the New Orleans pelicans are committed to building a winning franchise in Big Easy.
Gayle Benson made his statement on Friday (April 12) when the team hired David Griffin as the new executive vice president of basketball operations.
That title was by design. It is the same title that Mickey Loomis had for the pelicans while performing his double role.
By eliminating Loomis from the side of basketball and allowing her to concentrate all her energy on the New Orleans Saints, Benson sends a message to the rest of the NBA: she is very serious about basketball.
Griffin arrives in New Orleans as a proven winner. He was the general manager of the Cleveland Cavaliers of 2014-17.
What would David Griffin want in a trade for Anthony Davis?
Griffin, who worked as an badyst this season on NBA TV, expressed his opinion earlier this season.
When he was elevated from interim general manager to full-time job, Griffin thought he needed to navigate the Cavaliers through a rebuild, while at the same time hoping that LeBron James would return to his home in Cleveland.
He hired David Blatt as coach of the team and then selected Andrew Wiggins with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. Two weeks later, James announced that he would return to Cleveland.
Griffin had to build the list around James to put the Cavaliers in position to win a title. He immediately sent Wiggins to the Timberwolves in a four-team deal that brought Kevin Love to Cleveland.
As the Los Angeles Lakers discovered this season, building a winner around James is harder than it looks.
After taking Cleveland to the final in 2015, James and company won the NBA championship in 2016. The Cavaliers returned to the finals in 2017 with another loss.
In June of 2017, Griffin separated from the Cavaliers after they could not agree on an extension of the contract.
Since then, Griffin has waited his time to return to the battle of the NBA. He worked for NBA TV. He even made radio sometimes with the Pelicans announcer game by game Joel Meyers on Sirius XM.
Griffin has been out of the NBA for two full seasons. He had a series of GM jobs that he could have had in the meantime. He left search in New York and Philadelphia while looking for the right opportunity.
New Orleans was that opportunity.
David Griffin will lead pelicans basketball operations
Griffin was previously the general manager of the Cavaliers and won a title in Cleveland.
But it also shows a commitment on the part of the pelicans. According to ESPN, Griffin's hiring is expected to "come with an update of personnel and resources committed to the franchise."
That would probably indicate big changes for the Pelicans headquarters when the team heads into the offseason.
It also signals Benson's commitment to win.
Pelicans may seem to be in a desperate situation, but there is a unique opportunity. Griffin has the opportunity to rebuild the equipment in any way he sees fit, and he can do it quickly.
Griffin will navigate the pelicans through the most important trade in franchise history when he takes Anthony Davis this summer. New Orleans has the opportunity to recover a route that could keep the team competitive next season.
"If I was holding his cards, I would probably want to be in a situation where I have at least one young player who projects to be a star," Griffin told NBA TV on January 29.
"The draft picks, an elite role player, someone who could help us be the cause of us as winners, because when you bring the little kids to the floor, you need those guys to push a group."
Griffin, in the same broadcast, said he was a Pelicans fan, Jrue Holiday, who is the only player on the team, in addition to Davis, with a contract that extends beyond 2019-20. Griffin can reconstruct the list when he sees fit, especially with the Davis exchange.
Griffin had a quick start when he had to build a winner in Cleveland thanks to James, now he can try it one more time.