Make no mistake, pelicans in New Orleans are committed to building a winning franchise in the Big Easy.
Gayle Benson made her statement Friday, April 12 when the team hired David Griffin as the new executive vice president of basketball operations.
This title was by design. It's the same title that Mickey Loomis had for the Pelicans while he fulfilled his dual role.
By eliminating Loomis from basketball and allowing him to focus all his energy on the New Orleans Saints, Benson sends a message to the rest of the NBA – she's serious about basketball.
Griffin comes to New Orleans as the winner. He has been General Manager of the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2014 to 2017.
After being promoted interim general manager to the position of interim general manager, Griffin thought that it was necessary to rebuild the Cavaliers, while keeping hope that LeBron James would return to Cleveland.
He hired David Blatt as coach of the team, then selected Andrew Wiggins with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. Two weeks later, James announced his return to Cleveland.
Griffin had to build the list around James to allow the Cavaliers 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 have learned this season, it is more difficult than it seems to find a winner around James.
After putting Cleveland in the final in 2015, James and his company won the NBA championship in 2016. The Cavaliers returned to the final in 2017 with another defeat.
In June 2017, Griffin separated from the Cavaliers after they could not agree on an extension of contract.
Since then, Griffin has been waiting for his time to return to the NBA fray. He worked for NBA TV. He even occasionally did radio with Joel Meyers, play-by-play presenter, on Sirius XM.
Griffin left the NBA for two full seasons. He would have had several jobs at GM that he could have had meanwhile. He retired from research in New York and Philadelphia while he was looking for the right opportunity.
New Orleans was this opportunity.
But it also shows a commitment on the part of pelicans. According to ESPN, the hiring of Griffin "should be accompanied by an upgrade of staff and resources dedicated to the franchise".
That would probably mean heavy changes for the Pelicans front office as the team headed for the offseason.
It also reflects Benson's commitment to winning.
Pelicans may seem to be in a desperate situation, but there is a unique opportunity. Griffin has a chance to rebuild the team as he sees fit – and he can do it quickly.
Griffin will lead the Pelicans through the most important trade in franchise history when he will be dealing with Anthony Davis this summer. New Orleans has a chance to bring back a shot that could keep the team competitive next season.
"If I were holding their cards, I would probably be in a situation where I have at least one young player who could potentially become a star," Griffin told NBA TV on Jan. 29.
"Draft picks, an elite role player, someone who could advance the cause for us as a winner, because when you bring young children to the ground, you need these guys to galvanize a group."
Griffin, in the same show, said that he was a fan of the Pelicans guard, Jrue Holiday, who is the only player on the team alongside Davis with a contract that exceeds 2019-20. Griffin can reconstruct the list as he sees fit, especially with the Davis trade.
Griffin had a quick start when he had to build a winner in Cleveland thanks to James. Now he has to try again.