David Griffin Rumors
The rumblings began following the Pelicans’ 0-3 start (currently a league-worst 1-11 after Wednesday’s loss to OKC), coupled with Griffin’s public handling of All-Star forward Zion Williamson’s prolonged recovery from offseason foot surgery. New Orleans brass certainly hoped Griffin’s tenure would finally lead to a playoff berth, despite its tenuous two years building around Williamson. Word of a heated exchange between the chief executive and Sacramento Kings associate head coach Alvin Gentry has since circled around the league.
While New Orleans projected optimism about competing for a postseason berth during the Orlando bubble, Gentry and a large portion of Pelicans staffers were already prepared for the coach’s ouster, sources said, as Griffin was widely known to covet Ty Lue, who was the head coach in Cleveland when Griffin served as the general manager for LeBron James’ 2016 championship team. Griffin would often tell team and other league officials that he’d given Gentry “all the answers to the test, and he still fails,” sources confirmed to B/R.
That expression was first reported in a September article from NOLA.com, which served as the catalyst for Griffin and Gentry’s exchange in New Orleans, sources told B/R. After the Kings defeated the Pelicans 113-109 on Oct. 29, Griffin approached Gentry in the bowels of Smoothie King Center to offer a warm hello to his former head coach, yet Gentry brushed off his initial efforts as inauthentic. From there, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the incident, Griffin denied the findings of the NOLA.com article, particularly his “answers to the test” line, and the notion that he played piano for Williamson during the team’s bubble stay in Disney World.
Gentry responded with his own choice words, noting how his eventual replacement, Stan Van Gundy, who was also fired after one season in New Orleans, finished just one game better (31-41) than the Pelicans did under Gentry (30-42) the year he was let go. “You must not have given Stan the answers to the test, either,” Gentry shouted at Griffin, according to multiple sources, and the two men had to be physically separated.
The aftermath of that event has seemed to ripple around the league, leading to increased whispers about the future of New Orleans without Griffin at the helm of the Pelicans basketball operations. League observers have noted New Orleans’ repeated appearances in national television games, that were supposed to feature Williamson, have cast a far larger spotlight on the Pelicans’ losing dynamic than otherwise would have existed.