The decision to fire head coach Alvin Gentry was especially difficult for Pelicans VP of basketball operations David Griffin because of their long relationship, writes Jim Eichenhofer of NBA.com. Griffin, who previously worked with Gentry in Phoenix, insisted the move wasn’t a result of the team’s disappointing 2-6 record in seeding games.
“I’ve known Alvin for more than 15 years, so this is really difficult on a human level,” Griffin said. “He hasn’t forgotten how to coach and this isn’t about any shortcomings. This is far more about finding the right fit and a shared vision for a very young and ambitious group moving forward.”
Griffin adds that the Pelicans intend to take their time in the search for a new coach, partly because of coronavirus-related restrictions that make in-person interviews challenging. He said the front office won’t be content to conduct the process through conference calls on Zoom and wants to talk to as many candidates face to face as possible.
“We will not be quick with this at all. This is not a rush,” he said. “We have a job that we believe is going to be the most attractive in the NBA, quite frankly. With all of the candidates still in the (Orlando) bubble – and there are some that may not be – candidates you may want to talk to are still with teams, in many circumstances.”
There’s more related to Gentry’s dismissal:
- Despite the head coaching change, no moves will be made right away with the assistant coaches, Eichenhofer adds in the same story. “We feel very strongly about the assistant coaching staff we have,” Griffin said. “I’ve connected with almost all of them. We feel very strongly about the quality of staff we have. Some of those individuals potentially will be head coaching candidates elsewhere, Chris Finch certainly among them. He’ll be part of our conversation moving forward and it’s our intention that many of our staffers will continue to be with the next regime at some point.”
- Sources tell Sam Amick of The Athletic that Griffin began to have doubts about Gentry shortly after being hired by New Orleans in April of last year. He had reportedly been leaning toward a coaching change for a while, and the performance in Orlando made the decision easier.
- The Pelicans’ priority should be to find a coach who can help star rookie Zion Williamson reach his potential as a defender, contends Kevin Pelton of ESPN (Insider link). Pelton points out that Williamson was a difference maker at Duke with 3.9 steals per 100 plays and a shot-blocking rate of 5.8% on two-point attempts. His NBA numbers were far below what his performance in college would suggest.