METAIRIE, La. -- David Griffin said he is "certain that's a false narrative" that Zion Williamson or any other potential No. 1 pick in the NBA draft would need to be convinced to play for the New Orleans Pelicans.
And Griffin said he is hoping to convince Anthony Davis to stay on board as well, now that the Pelicans are on a remarkable offseason winning streak.
The Pelicans' makeover continued this past week when they won the NBA draft lottery, then lured Trajan Langdon away from the Brooklyn Nets to become their general manager. Griffin, who was hired last month as New Orleans' executive vice president of basketball operations, said he plans to visit with Davis soon.
"We'll probably sit together in Los Angeles at some point around the draft workouts that take place there," Griffin said Tuesday during a conference call to introduce Langdon. "And I think that's the next step -- really to look each other in the eye and talk about what's important to us. And we're very optimistic from previous conversations with Rich Paul, his agent, and with all of the people here that know Anthony and know what he's about. We're very confident that we have a compelling situation for him here.
"And if winning is what he is indeed all about, which we have every reason to believe, we feel confident that we can create -- and are creating -- the right environment for Anthony and frankly for high-caliber players of all types to want to be a part of. This is something that we hope creates an energy that recruits itself, and Anthony would just be one step in that process."
So far, there has been no indication that Davis plans to back away from his desire to be traded from the Pelicans or to leave as a free agent after next season. But the team is optimistic that Davis could be swayed by the caliber of changes being made this offseason, including the likely addition of Duke's Williamson with the No. 1 pick.
As for Williamson, Griffin balked at speculation that he might not want to play for a struggling, small-market franchise in New Orleans. Griffin said "we know unequivocally" that either Williamson or top prospect Ja Morant would be "thrilled to join us in New Orleans" after Griffin and Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry spent time with each of them following the lottery.
"I'm certain that's a false narrative relative to the players that could potentially be the No. 1 pick," Griffin said. "We've sat with multiple players that we're looking at for that first pick. In fact, in the case of Zion Williamson, Alvin Gentry and I sat with he and his parents the night of the lottery. ... And Alvin and I were also together in interviewing Ja Morant in Chicago as well. And I think because we sat with those kids, who are both incredible human beings and all about all the right things, we know unequivocally that either one of them would be thrilled to join us in New Orleans. And they're both very much excited about the concept."
That concept of building a winner in New Orleans certainly seems to be attracting some of the top executives around the NBA. In addition to Griffin and Langdon, the Pelicans also hired respected trainer Aaron Nelson away from the Phoenix Suns.
Griffin joked that "the next one in is jumping on the bandwagon."
Griffin credited owner Gayle Benson, who took over both the Saints and Pelicans franchises last year following the death of her husband, Tom. Griffin said Benson has been committed to changing the Pelicans' approach after they fell short of building a winner around Davis over the past seven years.
"It's become something that it's very clearly her baby, and the Pelicans matter immeasurably to her. And literally in all these hirings, she's putting her money where her mouth is and she's empowering us to go and attract the best and the brightest," Griffin said. "And I think when you win the lottery in the midst of all those other things, it starts to really lend itself to changing a narrative.
"Certainly, [the new hires] are buying into the momentum at this point."
Langdon, who helped oversee a similar rebuild over the past three years as the Nets' assistant GM, said that momentum and commitment level is what drew him to New Orleans -- as well as the chance to work with Griffin again after they spent the 2015-16 championship season together with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
"The opportunity to join up with Griff again and do something special in a place that nobody believes it can be done, aside from the people in this organization and the city, is something that is very intriguing," said Langdon, who described it as a "very difficult decision" for him and his family to leave the Nets and said his time there was "fantastic."
"So I think it's another challenge, and one that's greater being in a smaller market," Langdon said. "I think Brooklyn has put themselves in a place now where they can attract those big-name people. And that's what we want to do there as well, but in a different market. And like Griff has said in the past, doing that in a small market like we did in Cleveland is just a lot more rewarding when you find that success at some point. And whether that will be in one, two or four years, who knows? But when the success does come, it's gonna be incredibly rewarding."