The New Orleans Pelicans will be looking for a new coach this summer, as the team is moving on from head coach Stan Van Gundy, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Andrew Lopez. Van Gundy was hired to replace Alvin Gentry in 2020, with hopes that the coach would help lift a talented roster to the postseason.
However, injuries and COVID-19 protocols halted New Orleans’ development this year, and it appears as though the front office wants to move in a different direction. Reported candidates have emerged for the position, including Pelicans assistant coach Teresa Weatherspoon, according to the New York Times‘ Marc Stein. Others include Nets assistants Jacque Vaughn and Ime Udoka, Bucks assistant Charles Lee and Lakers assistant Jason Kidd, according to Wojnarowski.
One of the reported reasons as to why the Pelicans are moving on from Van Gundy is his rocky relationship with several players on the roster, most notably Brandon Ingram, per the Times-Picayune’s Christian Clark. Van Gundy’s old-school-style approach and tough defensive mindset reportedly didn’t rub the players the right way, especially after being coached by Gentry, who is a more personable coach and has a history of establishing strong relationships with his players.
There was also some noted frustrations on Van Gundy’s part because of the COVID-19 condensed season. With a shortened training camp ahead of a compacted schedule, Van Gundy admitted during New Orleans’ exit interviews that this season certainly took a personal and mental toll on him.
“It was a hard year personally, because when I took the job, we didn’t know when training camp was going to start or any of that stuff,” Van Gundy said. “I had not really given a ton of thought to condensed training camp, condensed season, COVID protocols. That stuff was really, really difficult from a personal standpoint. For me, to go into Detroit and have my kids nearby, and I can’t see them. That kind of stuff. Having to limit people being able to come and visit us and things like that. On a personal level, it was difficult.”
Van Gundy isn’t the first coach to admit to how taxing this season has been. That’s part of the reason Brad Stevens opted to take a front-office role with the Boston Celtics and step down as head coach just a few weeks ago. Stevens said between the Orlando bubble and this season he was “worn down” as a coach and is now the franchise’s new president of basketball operations after Danny Ainge retied from his role.
For the Pelicans, this will be the third head coach in as many years that young stars Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram will have in New Orleans, which isn’t ideal for a franchise that’s trying to build a winning team around those two All-Star talents. Hopefully, the next head coach hiring will stick around a bit longer than the last one.
Courtesy: CBS Sports