Alvin Gentry

Pelicans Pick Up Alvin Gentry’s Option For 2020/21 Season

The Pelicans have picked up the team option for coach Alvin Gentry’s 2020/21 season, sources tell Malika Andrews of ESPN (Twitter link). New VP of basketball operations David Griffin has a strong relationship with Gentry dating back to their days working together with the Suns.

Gentry was essential in holding the Pelicans’ locker room together after Anthony Davis‘ trade request last season and he masterfully handled the media, preventing the situation in New Orleans from spiraling out of control. Many around the league believe his fast-paced system is a great fit for presumed No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson.

Gentry joined New Orleans after the 2014/15 season where he won a title as an assistant with the Warriors. Over his four seasons with the Pelicans, he’s compiled a record of 145-183.

Southwest Notes: Barea, Ball, Davis, Capela, Conley

Point guard J.J. Barea‘s recovery from a ruptured right Achilles tendon is going well and he’s hopeful of playing for Puerto Rico in the FIBA World Cup this summer, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon tweets. The Mavericks veteran suffered the injury on January 11th and underwent surgery three days later.

“The way I feel right now, it looks pretty good,” Barea told MacMahon. “But I’m not going to make a decision until it gets closer.” Barea is doing non-contact basketball activity under the supervision of Mavericks staff members, MacMahon adds, and took 600 shots in an hour last week.

Barea, an unrestricted free agent this summer, is expected to re-sign with the Mavericks.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • While Anthony Davis‘ representatives said he still wants out after meeting last week with executive VP David Griffin, there’s no need for Griffin to rush out and trade the superstar big man, Scott Kushner of the New Orleans Advocate writes. Griffin can wait as long as February’s trade deadline to deal Davis, leaving open the possibility that the team can convince him to change his mind. If Davis remains firm, his wish is more likely to come to fruition if he’s willing to make a commitment to the trade partner, Kushner adds.
  • Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry is intrigued by the possibility of a Lonzo BallJrue Holiday backcourt if Davis is dealt to the Lakers, Andrew Lopez of the Times-Picayune reports (hat tip to the Sporting News).
  • The Hawks, Spurs, Mavericks and Kings are possible destinations for center Clint Capela if the Rockets deal him, Frank Urbina of HoopsHype opines. The Rockets reportedly have made everyone on the roster available at the right price.
  • The Grizzlies should swap veteran point guard Mike Conley while his value remains high after he averaged a career high in points this season, Omari Sankofa II of The Athletic argues.

Pelicans Notes: Celtics Trade, Knox, Gentry, Trainer

The Celtics’ flameout in the postseason may have reduced the possibility of the Pelicans trading Anthony Davis to Boston, according to Scott Kushner of The New Orleans Advocate. A package of forward Jayson Tatum and a handful of the Celtics’ first-round draft picks would have been considered a fair return for Davis, who can become a free agent after next season. However, Tatum regressed in his second season and struggled during the postseason, Kushner continues. Boston’s incentive to acquire Davis has diminished with the likely departure of Kyrie Irving and the lack of enough quality pieces around Davis after a potential trade to make a championship run, Kushner adds.

We have more on the Pelicans:

  • The team’s front office has quietly gathered intelligence on the Knicks’ first-round pick, forward Kevin Knox, Ian Begley of SNY TV reports. Knox averaged 12.8 PPG in his rookie campaign and improved his shooting percentage as the season went along. If the Knicks win the lottery, that pick plus Knox and other assets could be attractive to New Orleans. However, there’s no consensus within the Knicks organization about trading that pick, even for a shot at Davis, Begley adds.
  • Alvin Gentry’s personality is the main reason why new VP of basketball operations David Griffin retained him, Kushner reveals in a separate story. Gentry’s lighthearted, professional and charismatic persona held the locker room together after Davis’ trade request, and Gentry also deftly handled the situation in the media, Kushner continues. Gentry and Griffin developed a longstanding friendship when they worked together with the Suns, Kushner adds.
  • Griffin said new athletic trainer Aaron Nelson changed the way he approached scouting, as he detailed to The Athletic’s William Guillory. Griffin poached Nelson from the Suns staff. They have been friends since 1993. “As I watched Aaron and his staff do what they were doing, it changed the way I scouted players,” Griffin said. “It changed what I looked for in players. My devotion to what they were doing in terms of changing player bio-mechanics was really complete. It literally impacted every part of my career after that.”

Pelicans Notes: Davis, GM Search, Gentry, Holiday

Shortly after the Pelicans dismissed general manager Dell Demps on Friday, Sam Amick of The Athletic cited sources who said there was no plan in place for how to handle the Anthony Davis situation after the All-Star break. On Sunday night, a tweet from Scott Kushner of The Advocate suggested that there’s still no resolution.

According to Kushner, there are people within the Pelicans’ organization who believe that Davis has played his last game for the team. However, the big man played in the All-Star Game on Sunday and his shoulder injury isn’t expected to sideline him going forward. He has also made it clear he wants to play down the stretch.

[RELATED: Anthony Davis plans to play rest of season, confirms teams on trade list]

With the NBA not stepping in to clarify its position on the issue, it’s not clear what the tipping point will be, according to Kushner, who predicts that the situation will continue to be a “weird” one going forward.

Here’s more on the Pelicans:

  • The Pelicans, who reportedly plan to target high-level executives for their GM opening, are expected to hire a search firm to vet outside candidates, per Amick.
  • In a column for The Advocate, Kushner argues that the Pelicans’ next general manager should learn from Demps’ mistakes — namely, Demps’ strategy of trading first-round picks for “young veterans” backfired, since New Orleans’ rosters during the last several years typically lacked depth and were short on affordable rookie contracts.
  • While the Davis saga has been a mess for the franchise, head coach Alvin Gentry and star guard Jrue Holiday have emerged as “sympathetic, admirable figures,” Kushner writes in a separate piece for The Advocate. According to Kushner, “Gentry and Holiday are the stewards who should be remembered for carrying a wounded franchise across a period of dread with dignity and pride.”

Southwest Notes: Davis, Paul, Parsons, Brooks, Smith

Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry believes LeBron James‘ comment that it would be “amazing” to play with Anthony Davis constitutes tampering, William Guillory of The Athletic tweets. An NBA statement on Friday indicated the James’ statement did not rise to the level of tampering. Gentry vehemently disagreed. “It’s tampering,” Gentry said. “Should we have AD say, ‘Why don’t we trade for LeBron?'” Gentry went on further to say, “I thought if you talked about a player under contract, it’s tampering. That’s just me. I’ve only been in the league for 31 years, so what would I know?”

We have more from around the Southwest Division:

  • Rockets All-Star guard Chris Paul has a Grade 2 hamstring strain and will be reevaluated in two weeks, according to a team press release. Paul suffered the injury against Miami on Thursday.
  • The Grizzlies are hopeful that forwards Chandler Parsons and Dillon Brooks will return to action soon, David Cobb of the Memphis Commercial Appeal reports. Parsons hasn’t played since the third game this season due to knee and back soreness but has ramped up his workouts lately. Brooks, who has not played since November 10th due to a Grade II MCL sprain, should return before the New Year. They could boost an offense that has reached 100 points just once the past 10 games, Cobb adds.
  • On that same topic, Michael Wallace of the team’s website notes that rookie forward Jaren Jackson Jr. and veteran combo guard Shelvin Mack have slumped recently. Coach J.B. Bickerstaff believes confidence is a factor for the team in general. “We can come up with schemes and tricks and all that, but on the offensive end of the floor, we’ve got to take the shots that are available to us,” he said. “We’ve got to believe the shots are going in. Guys are working their tails off, taking their reps. We’ve got to get them those shots, and when they get them, they’ve got to take them and knock them down.”
  • Mavericks guard Dennis Smith Jr. probably won’t play again until after Christmas, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News reports.  Smith has missed six of the last seven games due to a wrist injury. He’s unlikely to return until after the team’s road trip, which concludes Sunday.  Their next home game is Wednesday against the Pelicans.
  • Davis’ decision whether to sign a Designated Veteran extension with the Pelicans looms as one of this summer’s biggest stories, as Danny Leroux of The Athletic notes. Davis has no financial incentive to wait until potential free agency the following summer, so if he doesn’t sign it, that probably means he wants out of New Orleans, as Leroux details.

Southwest Notes: Cousins, Mavs, Anderson, Nowitzki

Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry denies that Anthony Davis didn’t want DeMarcus Cousins to return, William Guillory of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. Cousins stunned the basketball world by signing a one-year, $5.3MM deal with the Warriors but it had nothing to do with his relationship with New Orleans’ franchise player, according to Gentry.

“Someone said A.D. didn’t want DeMarcus back, and that couldn’t be further from the truth,” the Pelicans’ head coach said. “I don’t know where that came about, but it couldn’t be further from the truth.”

In other news around the Southwest Division:

  • The Mavericks don’t plan on having a full roster heading into training camp, Dwain Price of Mavs.com tweets“Unless something falls in our lap we’ll keep an open roster spot,” owner Mark Cuban told Price.
  • Kyle Anderson‘s defensive metrics were a major reason why the Grizzlies gave the small forward an offer sheet the Spurs didn’t match, according to Michael Wallace of Grizzlies.com. He ranked fourth in steals percentage, sixth in defensive rating and 13th in steals per game and rated as the league’s second-best defending small forward last season behind the Sixers’ Robert Covington. Offensively, Anderson could be used an additional ball handler and initiate half-court sets, Wallace adds.
  • If the Mavericks show significant improvement, Dirk Nowitzki could play beyond next season, Cuban said in a Sirius XM radio interview that was relayed by the Dallas Morning News. The Mavs will re-sign Nowitzki, who is currently a free agent, once they finish their offseason moves after turning down their team option.”I’d say it’s under 50 percent right now (he’ll retire after next season) but if he’s playing 77 games and we’re getting better, and we’re starting to win games? You know what a competitor he is — he’s going to want to come back.”

Pelicans, Alvin Gentry Agree To Extension

1:22pm: The Pelicans have issued a press release officially confirming that they’ve extended Gentry’s contract through the 2020/21 season.

“We are thrilled to have Alvin as our head coach,” Demps said in a statement. “He did a tremendous job last season. When we faced adversity, Alvin and his staff continually discovered ways to place the team in situations where we could be successful. I want to thank Mrs. [Gayle] Benson for her endless support and look forward to working with Alvin and his coaching staff as we strive to have sustained success.”

7:44am: The Pelicans have reached an agreement with Alvin Gentry that will keep the head coach locked up for multiple years, league sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. According to Wojnarowski, the two sides agreed to terms on a two-year extension, which will keep him under contract through the 2020/21 season.

Wojnarowski reports that Gentry will receive a raise on his new deal and will get a guaranteed contract for the 2019/20 campaign. His 2020/21 deal will be performance-based, Woj adds.

Gentry, a veteran head coach who took the reins in New Orleans in 2015, only won 64 games in his first two seasons with the club. However, the Pelicans took a major step forward in 2017/18, posting a 48-34 mark and knocking off the higher-seeded Trail Blazers in a first-round playoff sweep.

While Gentry’s overall record with the Pelicans remains a modest 112-134 (.455), his job looks far safer for the foreseeable future than it did a year ago, when there was speculation that the team could replace Gentry and/or GM Dell Demps. The Pelicans rewarded the organization’s patience with its best performance since the Chris Paul era.

The Pelicans’ strong season ensured that the franchise exercised its fourth-year option on Gentry for the 2018/19 season back in April. However, the new agreement will give him even more security, locking him up for the next three seasons.

New Orleans will look to take another step forward next season, but faces some roster-building challenges this offseason, with DeMarcus Cousins headed for free agency and no cap room available. Fortunately, franchise cornerstones Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday remain under team control for multiple years.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Gentry: Pelicans Organization Wants Cousins Back

Everyone in the Pelicans organization wants DeMarcus Cousins to re-sign with the club, coach Alvin Gentry told ESPN’s Mike Triplett and other reporters on Monday.

The Pelicans made the playoffs despite Cousins’ season-ending Achilles tendon injury in January and then advanced to the conference semifinals by sweeping the Trail Blazers in the opening round. That hasn’t changed the team’s desire to retain the Twin Towers pairing of Cousins and Anthony Davis. Cousins is an unrestricted free agent this summer.

“I don’t really talk about free agency. But the bottom line is that obviously we’d like to have him back on our team,” Gentry said. “Anyone that thinks you’re better having a guy that averaged [big numbers] not on your team is really kind of not in tune to what it takes to win in this league. So there’s just so many factors that enter into it. But there’s not one single person, player or coach or in the basketball ops department or ownership that doesn’t want him back.”

Cousins indicated in an extensive interview last week that he hadn’t spoken with anyone in the front office “in awhile.” That hinted at a potential disconnect between the two parties, or even that the Pelicans might let him walk without an offer.

Gentry’s comments debunked that notion. Cousins did say in the same interview he was interested in re-signing with them, though he’d let the process play itself out.

Whether the Pelicans or any other team offers Cousins a max contract remains a mystery, given that Cousins is coming off a major injury, along with his reputation as one of the league’s most temperamental players. The Pelicans reportedly had internal discussions about offering Cousins a two- or three-year contract worth less than the max. It’s also expected that most of the teams with significant cap space this summer won’t pursue him.

Pelicans Notes: Rondo, Mirotic, Cousins, Benson, Gentry

At 32 years old, Rajon Rondo is not a building block for an organization, but he’s an experienced and valuable veteran who plays well on the game’s biggest stage. Although Rondo’s future with the Pelicans is uncertain as he heads for unrestricted free agency this summer, the point guard spoke highly of the team in his exit press conference, William Guillory of The Times-Picayune writes.

“We’ll see how it goes,” Rondo said. “I love this group of guys. It’s a group of good guys. I love playing for coach (Alvin) Gentry. We’ll see how it goes. … This group of guys is special. I think we obviously went up against the defending champs. We played extremely well and we’ve got a lot to learn from. You play a team like that, you’ve got no option but to get better.”

During the first two rounds of the postseason, Rondo averaged 10.3 PPG and 12.2 APG for the Pelicans, living up to the “Playoff Rondo” moniker he has earned during his career. Rondo was solid during the regular season as well, posting totals of 8.3 PPG and 8.2 APG. During his press conference with reporters, general manager Dell Demps said that re-signing Rondo will be a critical part of the offseason, given his leadership abilities, tweets Scott Kushner of The Advocate.

Check out more Pelicans notes down below:

  • Nikola Mirotic joined the Pelicans in a midseason trade from the Bulls and played well, averaging 14.6 PPG and 8.2 RPG in 30 games for New Orleans. He is only under contract for one more season, but hopes to remain with the Pelicans long-term, per William Guillory of The Times-Picayune. “No doubt,” Mirotic said. “This has been like a family to me and I’m looking forward. This is the place I want to be.”
  • In their respective pressers, Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry and general manager Dell Demps both said they want to re-sign DeMarcus Cousins, who is recovering from a torn Achilles and will hit unrestricted free agency, tweets Scott Kushner of The Advocate. “In a perfect world we would like to have (Cousins) back,” Demps said.
  • Gentry’s option for 2018/19 was picked up by the Pelicans after the team defeated the Trail Blazers in the first round of the postseason. The head coach expressed his own desire to remain in New Orleans going forward, and advocated for new owner Gayle Benson, who took over after the death of her husband, Tom Benson. “Mrs. Benson is going to make this thing a success,” Gentry said (per Scott Kushner of The Advocate). “She’s 100% committed to doing everything we possibly can to making this a championship team. As long as that’s the case, I love being here.”

Pelicans Notes: Holiday, Davis, Cousins, Gentry

A primary factor in the Pelicans’ success so far this season – which now includes a sweep of the higher-seeded Trail Blazers in the first round of the Western Conference Playoffs – has been the stellar play of combo guard Jrue Holiday, writes Matt John of Basketball Insiders.

Having been somewhat hampered by injuries and personal matters since the Pelicans traded for him in the summer of 2013, Holiday has been a revelation so far this postseason, having increased his scoring output from 19.0 PPG in the regular season – a career-high – to 27.8 PPG in the playoffs, while also playing stifling defense on Portland’s All-Star point guard Damian Lillard.

Yet, the advanced statistics demonstrate that Holiday has actually been playing at an All-Star level all season long, regardless of whether the casual basketball fan realized it or not. For example, the Pelicans had an offensive rating of 108.9 points per 100 possessions when he was the on the court – would have ranked 7th – compared to 104.4 points per 100 possessions when he was off – would have ranked 21st.

Holiday was even more important to the Pelicans on the defensive end of the floor, where the team had a defensive rating of 103.3 per 100 possessions when Holiday was on the court – would have ranked 5th – compared to 112.3 off the court – would have ranked dead last, 30th overall.

Holiday’s net rating was also higher than that of Pelicans MVP-candidate teammate Anthony Davis, and his 3.81 Real Plus-Minus ranked ninth among point guards, which put him ahead of Kyrie Irving, John Wall, and Goran Dragic, all of whom made the All-Star team this year, albeit in the Eastern Conference.

Holiday will look to continue his stellar play on Saturday when the Pelicans head to Oakland to take on the Warriors in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals.

There’s more out of New Orleans this evening:

  • With Davis under contract through the 2020/21 season and not eager to leave town, the Pelicans are on track to becoming the next small-market success, writes Brett Martel of The Associated Press.
  • In a piece from Christian Boutwell of The Advocate, injured Pelicans’ big man DeMarcus Cousins says he “couldn’t be happier for this team” after a sweep of the Trail Blazers. Cousins also touched on his rehab for a torn left Achilles, saying “I’m improving each and every day and I’m improving a pretty rapid pace as well. That keeps my energy high, my positive vibes going.”
  • As we relayed Monday night, the Pelicans have informed head coach Alvin Gentry that his team option for next season will be picked up, thereby all but guaranteeing that Gentry will coach the Pelicans during the 2018/19 season.