David Griffin thanks teams like Celtics for giving Pelicans leverage they ‘probably didn’t deserve’ in Anthony Davis trade with Lakers

Zach Stevens
3 Min Read

Right now, there is lots of speculation that Damian Lillard, who has requested a trade from the Portland Trail Blazers, only wants to go to the Miami Heat. But there will certainly be several other teams that will make a real effort to land him.

David Griffin, an executive of the New Orleans Pelicans, was in a similar situation in 2019 when Anthony Davis asked out. He felt that the reported interest in Davis from the Boston Celtics and other teams led to the Pelicans getting more leverage in a trade with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Davis clearly wanted to join the Lakers and team up with LeBron James, a situation that seems to mirror the one Lillard has created this summer. At the time, the Celtics were reportedly an interested suitor, but perhaps they were scared away by the prospect of trading for a superstar that would be unhappy with them.

Davis was one year away from becoming a free agent, which gave him leverage in forcing his way to L.A. On the other hand, Lillard is under contract for several more seasons.

The Pelicans ended up getting Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and multiple draft picks for Davis. Plenty of people felt like that was a tremendous return for the talented but injury-prone big man, and a few even suggested they got the better end of the deal.

But the Lakers ended up winning the NBA championship in Davis’ first season with them, while the return New Orleans got for him has seemingly diminished a bit.

Ball hasn’t even come close to meeting the massive hype that surrounded him, and he has had lots of trouble staying healthy. New Orleans ended up trading him to the Chicago Bulls in the summer of 2021.

As part of the Davis trade, New Orleans had the right to swap first-round draft picks with L.A. this year. When the Lakers got off to a disastrous 2-10 start, some even felt it would result in the Pelicans possibly getting a chance to select Victor Wembanyama, the 7-foot-3 generational talent from France.

Instead, the Lakers finished with a better record than New Orleans, and the latter was left with merely the No. 14 pick in the 2023 draft.

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Zach has always had a profound love and respect for the Lakers that has inspired him to write about the franchise. He has a great deal of admiration for LeBron James, and his overall knowledge about the NBA has made him a solid addition to the Lakers Daily staff.