David Griffin saw the future of the New Orleans Pelicans in a brief moment at a recent NBA Summer League practice, and he said things look “crazy” good.
The Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations met with reporters Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) in a press conference to introduce new acquisitions Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart — who came over in the Anthony Davis trade with the Lakers — and Derrick Favors, recently acquired in a trade with the Jazz.
Coupled with No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson and No. 8 overall pick pick Jaxson Hayes, along with returning guard Jrue Holiday, and the Pelicans are expected to be one of the most-improved teams in the league. It’s up to Griffin, along with head coach Alvin Gentry and general manager Trajan Langdon, to put all the new pieces together.
But Griffin is thrilled with what he’s seen so far, like that special moment in a recent Summer League practice.
“There was a moment where Jaxson Hayes was out running the floor in a practice with Zion on the other side, and they were sort of just messing around … and the speed those guys have just at a trot is mind-numbing,” Griffin said. “Alvin and I looked at it and we thought, ‘Man with those guys on the wing, and with Lonzo at the point, what we’ll be able to do speed-wise is crazy.'”
That’s crazy in a good way for the Pelicans, unlike last season’s 33-49 craziness, lowlighted by the persistent trade rumors surrounding Davis.
Griffin said he is excited all the recent acquisitions come from winning backgrounds.
“We want to surround ourselves with people that have won championships on any level, because it’s a frequency you learn to tune to,” Griffin said. “We’re deep with selfless winners.”
Ball welcomes the move to New Orleans.
“It’s a fresh start. It’s a restart. … I know the media is not like it was in LA, but I know the fans are great and come out and support (us).”
Ball said he’s looking forward to playing a more uptempo style.
“I’m getting back to playing the style I’ve been playing my whole life, I’m very comfortable in a high uptempo offense like coach Gentry has,” Ball said.
“Lonzo is a truly special defensive guard and he’s also a special rebounding guard, and that’s going to allow us to start our break and play to a lot of his strengths,” Griffin said.
Griffin sounded a bit like a quantum physicist at times, dropping quotes like “The energy you put out in the universe is going to attract like energy,” and “The universe doesn’t make mistakes. We feel like it brought everyone together here for a reason.” But he’s clearly excited to have such a retooled roster. And he really likes the way the collection of players all complement each other in terms of their skill sets.
“Everyone was very aware this was a special opportunity for all of us in terms of fit,” Griffin said.
The Pelicans will enter this season with high expectations, and playing under a microscope with No. 1 pick Williamson on display. But Griffin wants the players to believe anything is possible.
“Look at what the NBA has become, and the way teams are built,” Griffin said. “You can’t dream big enough in this league. I think I want everyone’s approach to this to be, ‘Why not us?’