Former Nets assistant general manager Trajan Langdon was introduced on Tuesday as the new general manager of the Pelicans, and there were moments during his media conference call when he sounded exactly like current Nets GM Sean Marks talking about “not skipping steps” while building a sustainable winning culture.
But unlike Marks, who never had the Nets’ original draft pick his first three seasons, the Pelicans won the NBA draft lottery and the chance to draft Duke superstar Zion Williamson. Langdon had to admit that could be a “game-changer.”
Langdon said he was happy for new Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin even before he was approached about the GM job. “Once he approached me about wanting to join the franchise, already having the No. 1 pick made it very, very exciting,” Langdon said.
The Pelicans also have a roster that includes All-Star forward Anthony Davis, who requested a trade during the season and whose status remains uncertain now that they own the rights to the No. 1 pick.
“Obviously, there’s a lot of fluidity with the roster and what we decide to do with the No. 1 pick and with free agency looming as well, there’s a lot of decisions that need to be made,” Langdon said. “A lot of it are decisions that other players make. As Griff has said in the past, we want guys that are all-in in New Orleans.”
Langdon has a higher title with the Pelicans, but his role includes similar responsibilities. Asked if there was anything the Nets could have done to keep him, Langdon didn’t answer directly.
“My time in Brooklyn has been fantastic,” Langdon said. “The challenges that were here upon me coming in three years ago were daunting, and I think what we were able to do has been tremendous . . . Brooklyn has put themselves in a place now where they can attract those big-name people. Like Griff has said in the past, doing that in a small market like he did in Cleveland, is a lot more rewarding when you find that success at some point.”
Although Langdon previously worked with Griffin less than a year in Cleveland, the two obviously developed a strong relationship. “He doesn’t micromanage people,” Langdon said. “One thing I really enjoyed with him in Cleveland was the autonomy and belief that he had in me.”
Since the lottery, there have been reports Williamson might resist going to New Orleans, but Griffin said he and coach Alvin Gentry spoke with Williamson and potential No. 2 pick Ja Morant at the lottery in Chicago and know better.
“We know unequivocally that either one of them would be thrilled to join us in New Orleans,” Griffin said. “They’re both very much excited about the concept.”
As for Davis’ trade demand, Griffin said he expects to meet with Davis at a pre-draft workout in Los Angeles for top prospects. “That’s the next step is to look each other in the eye and talk about what’s important to us,” Griffin said. “We’re very optimistic from previous conversations with Rich Paul, his agent. We’re very confident we have a compelling situation for him here.”