David Griffin, New Orleans' executive vice president of basketball operations, has started to provide potential suitors with the framework of the package he is seeking in a trade for All-NBA forward Anthony Davis, including multiteam scenarios that would expand the Pelicans' pool of assets in a deal, league sources told ESPN.
The success of the Kawhi Leonard rental in Toronto has also seemed to embolden factions of Davis' nonpreferred and smaller-market destinations to inquire with New Orleans on trades, league sources said.
According to front offices that have engaged in conversations with Griffin, he hasn't sounded convinced that one team is likely to fulfill his wishes for a Davis deal. To that end, Griffin has been working to find multiteam trade scenarios that could redirect assets for players or picks more preferable to the Pelicans, sources said.
For example, those sorts of scenarios could include the Lakers helping to find a team that hypothetically values Los Angeles' young players more than New Orleans does, or New York could flip its two first future first-round picks via the Dallas Mavericks into players the Pelicans prefer. New Orleans seems determined to be creative in constructing a deal to maximize the return on Davis, one of the NBA's elite talents.
Griffin has offered teams no firm timetable on needing a completed deal, but he has indicated that he prefers the acquisition of 2019 draft picks be completed days prior to the June 20 event in Brooklyn, league sources said. This gives the Pelicans a chance to meet and more closely examine draft candidates slotted in the vicinity of picks potentially traded to New Orleans.
The Knicks and Lakers hold the Nos. 3 and 4 picks in this month's draft, respectively, and those are prime trade assets for the Pelicans to consider.
Griffin is pursuing a combination of assets that include an All-Star player, a young player with All-Star potential and two first-round picks, league sources said. Those wants are on a sliding scale. For example, the better the player, the softer the requests on the draft picks -- and vice versa.
That's certainly a starting place in trade talks, but there remains uncertainty on how many assets teams will be willing to move for Davis, who could leave as a free agent next July.
In whatever deal the Pelicans make, Griffin wants the assets to continue building a Western Conference playoff team around guard Jrue Holiday and the projected No. 1 overall pick, forward Zion Williamson, sources said.
For now, a Davis trade looms as a premium free-agent recruiting tool for those big-market teams engaged with New Orleans. For example, Brooklyn and New York are pursuing Davis to partner with the likes of Kevin Durant or Irving once free agency begins June 30.
Davis, 26, requested a trade in January -- with the Lakers as a primary destination -- but negotiations never gained traction. Those talks were led by New Orleans general manager Dell Demps and Lakers president Magic Johnson -- both of whom are no longer employed in those positions.
The Pelicans hired Griffin in April, and he immediately embarked on a campaign to convince Davis to reconsider his desire to leave the franchise. Davis is eligible to sign a five-year, $235.5 million supermax contract starting in July.