Current TNT analyst Stan Van Gundy has agreed to coach the New Orleans Pelicans on a four-year deal. Van Gundy’s representative, Brain Elfus, reached an agreement on the multi-year deal on Wednesday.
By accepting the job, Van Gundy becomes the 7th head coach in New Orleans franchise history. He replaces Alvin Gentry who was fired after the Pelicans had a disappointing 2-6 record in the NBA bubble seeding games.
New Orleans had entered the bubble tournament tied for the 9th best record in the West and had a favorable seeding games schedule. But instead of grabbing the final playoff spot in the West, they struggled and finished 13th.
New Orleans had an extensive search. Since Gentry’s dismissal, they interviewed a total of nine potential head coaches while also gathering intel on several other candidates. Last week, it was reported that the Pelicans had narrowed down their search to four candidates which included Van Gundy and Lue. Lue was later promoted as the Los Angeles Clippers’ head coach but sources say that it was SVG who impressed Griffin.
According to reports, it was Van Gundy’s winning track record and reputation of being a teacher of the game that made him stand out. Griffin believes that he can impart his knowledge to the Pelicans as they attempt to make a leap with their young roster.
Van Gundy’s previous teams have stood out in defense. In the 11 seasons that he finished as head coach, 10 teams ranked in the upper half in defensive rating including 8 who were in the league’s Top 10.
This expertise should also come in handy for a Pelicans team that ranked 27th in the NBA in scoring defense.
With the announcement of Van Gundy’s hiring in New Orleans, only two out of the nine coaching vacancies in the NBA have not yet been filled in- the Houston Rockets and OKC Thunder. Stan’s brother Jeff, is reportedly among the leading candidates to land the job in Houston.
In 11 plus seasons as head coach of the Miami Heat, Orlando Magic, and Detroit Pistons, the 61-year old Van Gundy has compiled a regular-season coaching record of 523-384 (.577) and a 48-43 (.527) playoff record. He made the playoffs in eight seasons but had his best run when he was in Orlando.
SVG led the Magic to a 259-135 (.657) record in five seasons with the team. He led them to the playoffs in all of his five years there and led the Magic to the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals while taking them to the 2009 NBA Finals. Van Gundy also had a winning record in Miami at 112-73 but had a shaky stint in Detroit where he posted a record of 152-176 (.463).
However, his role with the Pistons included working as the team’s president of basketball operations. He will not have the same dual responsibility in New Orleans with David Griffin in place as the Pelicans’ president of basketball operations. Because of that, SVG can fully focus on his coaching job with the team.
In the Pelicans, Van Gundy inherits a team that has a bright future. The New Orleans core is led by 2019 top overall pick Zion Williamson, 2019-20 NBA Most Improved Player winner Brandon Ingram, 2019 lottery pick Jaxson Hayes, and 2019 17th pick Nickeil Alexander-Walker.
The Pelicans also have 2017 first rounders Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart whom they can sign to rookie-extension deals when the season begins.
Aside from their young and talented line-up. The Pelicans also have an abundance of draft picks. The Pelicans have the 13th pick and three second-rounders (39,43, and 60) of the upcoming 2020 NBA Draft. They also own the Lakers 2021 ( protected 8-30) or 2022 (unprotected), 2023 (pick swap), and either 2024 or 2025, with the Pelicans able to defer a 2024 pick swap one year.
SVG is expected to teach the Pelicans’ young team and guide them to the playoffs. To help him do that, New Orleans also has a pair of battle-tested veterans in versatile guard Jrue Holiday and the sharpshooting J.J. Redick. Redick played for Van Gundy in Orlando.
The Pelicans have made the playoffs in two out of the last nine seasons and they have won only one series during that period. They are currently 8th in the SportsBetting.ag odds board to win the 2021 Western Conference at +500. The oddsmaker is correct with its ranking, New Orleans could be back in the playoffs next season.
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