Stan Van Gundy: “Deep Down, I’m Always A Coach”

The Pelicans reached out to new head coach Stan Van Gundy shortly after he finished his broadcast duties in Orlando, writes Sean Highkin of Bleacher Report. Van Gundy left the Disney World campus after calling the seeding games and the first two rounds of the playoffs for TNT. Soon after, David Griffin, executive VP of basketball operations in New Orleans, contacted him to gauge his interest in coaching again.

Van Gundy held three meetings with Griffin, general manager Trajan Langdon, and vice president Swin Cash before receiving the job offer that he accepted today.

“I always knew that I had a desire to coach (again) if the situation was right,” Van Gundy said. “I wasn’t trying to get my name in on every job. I wasn’t calling my agent about every job. This one was one that I thought was a good fit on both sides, so I was very interested in it.

“I loved broadcasting. I was having a great time with it. A lot of people were helping me learn and try to get better, and I would have been fine and very, very happy if I had done that for the rest of my working life. But I guess deep down, I’m always a coach. When the right situation came, I was happy to be involved in it.”

New Orleans became the right situation because of a roster loaded with young talent, starting with rookie forward Zion Williamson, a potential franchise player. After missing the beginning of the season with an injury, Williamson was spectacular once he took the court, averaging 22.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists in his 24 starts while playing just 27.8 minutes per game. He was one of the most eagerly anticipated rookies the league has seen in years, and Van Gundy gets the chance to develop his game for the future.

“That combination of size, quickness and explosive power, it really hasn’t come along,” he said. “People were trying to make the comparison to LeBron (James) or to Charles Barkley, and that’s probably as close as you’ll get. … What everybody notices is the big body and the great leaping ability, but he’s also got an incredible first step offensively and plays the game very unselfishly. He makes quick decisions, the ball leaves his hand quickly, so other guys can enjoy playing with him. He’s not a ball-stopper.”

Van Gundy’s first order of business will be to fill out his coaching staff in conjunction with the front office. He has already started calling Pelicans players and plans to meet with each of them soon.

It has been two-and-a-half years since Van Gundy was fired in Detroit, where he was also president of basketball operations. He admitted he wanted to get away from coaching at the time, but his experience at Disney World brought him back to it.

“The thing about being in the bubble is there was nothing else to do,” Van Gundy said. “So on days where we weren’t doing games, or even when you’re doing one game and there are four games total, you’re watching the other three. There’s nothing else to do. You’re at the hotel, and I don’t golf, so you’re just sitting in your room watching basketball and taking notes. So I think it helped increase my interest in getting back to coaching, watching all that stuff, and then it was great for ideas and to get my brain going.”

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16 thoughts on “Stan Van Gundy: “Deep Down, I’m Always A Coach”

  1. harden-westbrook-mvps

    He better hope they have pre-shutdown version of Zion instead of his restart counterpart which embarrassed himself in Orlando. But the top two teams in Texas will remain at the top of the standings in the SW division.

    • xxtremecubsguy89

      Hahahahahahaha. Houston better hope they have the 94-95 version of the team. Because Harden is NEVER going anywhere as the lead player on a team. Believe that.

  2. bowserhound

    Holy moly; I was convinced that this was a good hire because I thought it was Jeff until I ot to the Detroit part.

  3. Jason Lancaster

    The Van Gundy brothers are funny and smart and very entertaining. But they’re coaches from another era.

    SVG will bruise the egos of young players, and his teams will not score well while struggling to eek into the playoffs. Also, SVG never played in the league, and that’s a problem for a lot of veterans.

    It’s a baffling hire.

    • mike.honcho

      Indeed, the Van Gundy’s are old-school coaches.

      But if bruising egos, preaching hard defense and accountability is old-school …….. not a few team owners would want some of that.

      Spoelstra, Brad Stevens & Nick Nurse are widely considered to be the top head coaches now in the league ……… they never played in the NBA.

      Neither did Budenholzer, Malone, Vogel, Snyder, Clifford, Stotts, Brown and some more.

      Also, some old coach named Pop, didn’t play in the NBA too.

      1o 0f the 16 playoff teams had coaches who didn’t play in the NBA. the few who did, Donovan, Vaughn, D’Antoni, Carlsile were mostly fringe players.

      • Jason Lancaster

        Most coaches have not played in the NBA – that’s true. But many of the names you mention actually win!

        Van Gundy turned limited success with Howard in Orlando (in a different basketball era) into a job in Detroit where his teams defended well enough, but couldn’t score. You can argue their scoring problems were because of personnel – they had TWO bigs in a league that only needs one – but the personnel guy was also the coach!

        And he’s made numerous dismissive remarks about analytics, which is just dumb. Today’s NBA is all about scoring as efficiently as possible. If a coach isn’t buying into that 100%, he’s going to be terrible.

        NO is going to be lucky to make the playoffs so long as SVG is the coach. Granted, the West is deep, but he is going to focus on all the wrong things…just like he did in his last job.

        • mike.honcho

          I think you contradicted yourself some bro …….. you stated that a lot of veterans will have problems with coaches who didn’t play in the league.

          Yet, you acknowledge that the coaches I pointed (10 of the 16 current playoff teams) actually win ……. wouldn’t teams winning and making the playoffs imply that their veterans do get along with their coaches ?

          Yes, indeed SVG fouled-up with the PISTONS having both coach and GM roles.

          Like I said in a separate post, dual-roles just dont work out …….. Pop should be the lone exception.

          I believe SVG would be the first to admit that it was a mistake accepting that GM role as well ……… Doc, Thibs would admit the same thing.

          Heck none of these guys demanded GM functions when they got their next coaching gigs.

          SVG is a good hire …….. Gentry was a players-coach. Can’t babysit these kids anymore, this team needs that discipline when the other team has the ball.

          Also, not many can recall, that MAGIC team was among the few who went 3-point bonkers, surrounding DH with all shooters.

          The PELICANS stay healthy, I see them making the playoffs, bottom-half.

  4. Reflect

    I don’t know if Van Gundy is a good coach but I do know Detroit is an awful organization and he (as coach) shouldn’t be blamed for those issues. He clearly shouldn’t be a GM or Pres of Ops though. I don’t know why teams keep trying to hand that job to their coaches.

  5. hoosierhysteria

    He can coach. Do his players respect/ love playing for him? Does he make them better? Does he motivate them? He seems to just whine at them. We shall see. He was an awful GM and destroyed the Pistons with that Blake trade. Clippers robbed them.

  6. mike.honcho

    Coaches with GM-roles just doesn’t work ………. not unless you’re Popovich.

    GM’s need that distance from the players, they make choices on what the team needs ……. coaches can be swayed by their closeness to players.

    SVG giving Reggie Jackson the max, back in Detroit, is one of those miscues that wont probably happen had they had a decent, separate GM.

  7. KnickerbockerAl

    He’s worked well with young players before. NO got talent. I think he’s a good hire. Zion better get a cook. Needs to change his diet. If he wants a career. His knees and body will not handle his style of play. He should stay under 260. NO could use a veteran big. Mentor the young guys and give them big mins. Howard could fit here. He’s worth more than minimum to them. NO could make playoffs they stay healthy.

    • Jason Lancaster

      Right. Look at what he did for Spencer Dinwiddie – he traded him away before he could stilt his growth.

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