There were signs that Stan Van Gundy might not return for another season as Pelicans head coach well before the news became official Wednesday, according to Shams Charania, Joe Vardon and William Guillory of The Athletic. Earlier today, we shared their insights into Zion Williamson‘s future in New Orleans, and they have information on the coaching situation as well.
Van Gundy expressed his frustrations about the team’s performance to an assistant coach during a late-season bus trip, and someone relayed those comments to executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin with a warning that Van Gundy may not want to go through another season. Additionally, a meeting between Van Gundy and Griffin prior to the last weekend of the season turned out poorly, according to sources.
Sources also tell the authors that Brandon Ingram, who earned an All-Star nod under previous coach Alvin Gentry, didn’t like Van Gundy’s coaching methods. Ingram frequently talked about the way he and Williamson were used when they were on the court together, saying they rarely created better shot opportunities for each other.
There’s more from New Orleans:
- The Pelicans will face important decisions this summer on two players who were at the heart of the Anthony Davis trade, Charania, Vardon and Guillory add in the same story. Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart will both be restricted free agents and will be seeking substantial raises. Hart has become a vocal leader on a team without a strong veteran presence, and Williamson and Ingram have spoken out in favor of bringing both players back.
- The puzzling decisions to trade for Steven Adams and then give him a two-year extension look worse than ever, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic. New Orleans gave up a first-round pick in the deal for the veteran center, who clogs the lane and takes away room for Williamson to operate. Hollinger also questions the choice to take Eric Bledsoe‘s sizable contract from the Bucks instead of George Hill in the Jrue Holiday trade.
- The latest coaching change comes at a crucial time for the franchise, Hollinger adds. The Pelicans’ lease in New Orleans expires in 2024, so there’s a need to put a competitive team on the floor as soon as possible to ease any fears of relocation. He adds that owner Gayle Benson is very connected to the city and isn’t currently looking to sell, but the team continues to lose money while missing the playoffs.