Brandon Ingram

Pelicans Rumors: Griffin, Vaughn, S. Mitchell, Vinson, Hayes

Before the Pelicans decided to hire Willie Green as their new head coach, they were looking hard at Nets assistant Jacque Vaughn, who ultimately removed his name from consideration.

At the time, Vaughn’s desire to spend more time with his family in Brooklyn was cited as the motivating factor for his decision to withdraw, but Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report suggests that Vaughn’s discussions with Pelicans executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin also played a part. During those conversations, Griffin conveyed that he intended to be involved in determining the team’s rotation, planning players’ skill development, and filling out Vaughn’s coaching staff.

“He wants to have some level of involvement in every decision,” one Pelicans source said of Griffin, per Fischer.

Here’s more out of New Orleans:

  • After Vaughn withdrew from the Pelicans’ coaching search, the team expanded its list of candidates, according to Fischer, who says NBA TV broadcaster and former Coach of the Year Sam Mitchell was among those to receive a call. Mitchell is expected to receive consideration for a spot on Green’s staff, Fischer adds.
  • Pelicans assistant Fred Vinson, who interviewed for the head coaching position, is considered likely to remain in his current role. Sources tell Bleacher Report that Vinson’s interview with New Orleans lasted over four hours and was “exemplary.” Vinson and fellow Pelicans assistant Teresa Weatherspoon are said to have good relationships with Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, per Fischer.
  • During the interview process, the Pelicans wanted to know how each head coaching candidate would scheme their offense around Williamson and Ingram, and asked them to present development plans for the team’s other young players, writes Fischer.
  • Fischer refers to center Jaxson Hayes as “a personal favorite” of Griffin’s.
  • In case you missed it, the Pelicans are reportedly likely to trade at least one of Eric Bledsoe and Steven Adams this offseason and may go after Kyle Lowry in free agency.

Pelicans Notes: Van Gundy, Ingram, Ball, Hart, Adams

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.

Pelicans Part Ways With Stan Van Gundy

11:08am: The Pelicans have officially announced Van Gundy’s exit, stating in a press release that the two sides mutually agreed to part ways.

“On behalf of Mrs. Gayle Benson and the Pelicans organization, I would like to thank Stan for the integrity and professionalism that he demonstrated during his time in New Orleans, as well as the commitment and work ethic he brought to our team,” Griffin said in a statement. “This was a difficult decision as I have tremendous respect for Stan both personally and professionally, but we agreed it is in the best interest of our team to move forward in a different direction. We wish Stan, Kim and their family all the best in the future.”


9:57am: Stan Van Gundy will not return to the Pelicans for the 2021/22 season, according to Adrian Wojnarowski and Andrew Lopez of ESPN, who report (via Twitter) that Van Gundy is out after just one year as New Orleans’ head coach.

Van Gundy and Pelicans executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin have met regularly since the end of the regular season to discuss the team’s future, and a divorce between the team and its coach began to feel like an inevitable outcome around the organization, tweets Wojnarowski.

Van Gundy, who previously coached the Heat, Magic, and Pistons, spent a couple years as an NBA analyst from 2018-20 before returning to the head coaching ranks in 2020, when he was hired by the Pelicans. He had a disappointing season in New Orleans, however — a team that entered the year with playoff aspirations finished with a 31-41 (.431) record, missing the play-in tournament.

Replacing Alvin Gentry on the Pelicans’ sidelines, Van Gundy emphasized improving the team’s defense, but failed to do so, writes Christian Clark of NOLA.com. New Orleans ranked 23rd in points allowed per 100 possessions, two spots worse than in 2019/20. The Pels also had trouble closing out games, losing 14 times when they held a double-digit lead.

Clark writes that Van Gundy struggled to connect with many of the Pelicans’ young players, who didn’t adapt well to the drastic shift from Gentry’s coaching style to Van Gundy’s. Sources tell NOLA.com that Van Gundy’s relationship with star forward Brandon Ingram was “strained” for much of the season.

Van Gundy joins Nate Bjorkgren, formerly of the Pacers, as the head coaches who were let go this spring after just one year on the job.

The fifth team to launch a head coaching search since the regular season ended, the Pelicans are expected to look both inside and outside of the organization as they seek Van Gundy’s replacement.

Several reporters – including Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, Will Guillory of The Athletic, and Marc Stein of The New York Times (all Twitter links) – say that current Pelicans assistant Teresa Weatherspoon is a strong contender for the position, while O’Connor also identifies Fred Vinson as a candidate.

As for external candidates, Wojnarowski names Bucks assistant Charles Lee, Lakers assistant Jason Kidd, and Nets assistants Jacque Vaughn and Ime Udoka as possibilities, noting that the Pelicans considered some of those coaches a year ago before hiring Van Gundy.

Van Gundy, meanwhile, could receive some consideration from the other four teams with head coaching openings, but may prefer to step away again after a trying season. A return to broadcasting is one possibility for the veteran coach.

Pelicans Notes: Hernangomez, Van Gundy, 3-Point Shooting

Pelicans executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin would like to re-sign reserve center and unrestricted free agent Willy Hernangomez after the Summer Olympics, Christian Clark of NOLA.com reports. Hernangomez is a member of the Spanish national team.

“Willy is going to play meaningful basketball games,” Griffin said. “He’s going to go there, and even though we can’t sign him officially necessarily before he leaves for Spain, he’s going to go there identifying himself as a Pelican, and that’s important for us.”

Hernangomez started nine of New Orleans’ final 10 games and averaged 12.3 PPG and 10.4 RPG.

We have more on the Pelicans:

  • There was tension at times between coach Stan Van Gundy and his players during the season, Scott Kushner of NOLA.com reports. However, Van Gundy was thrust into the role of ‘bad guy’ who held players accountable, since the team’s young stars didn’t do that. It’s crucial that accountability shifts from Van Gundy to Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram in order for the defense and late-game execution to improve, Kushner adds.
  • The team sank to the bottom five in the league in 3-point shooting this season and Griffin said he’ll upgrade the roster in that area, Clark writes in a separate story. With extra first-round picks at his disposal, Griffin has the assets to trade for a perimeter threat or two. He could even deal this year’s lottery pick for proven talent, Clark adds. “We’re in a situation where there is a world of optionality to us,” Griffin said. “The pick assets we have give us incredible flexibility.”
  • Why could Tuesday turn out to be a pivotal day for the Pelicans organization? Get the details here.

Pelicans Notes: Ball, Williamson, Ingram, Hayes, Luxury Tax, Offseason

The big question looming over the Pelicans this offseason is whether restricted free agent Lonzo Ball will remain with the franchise. Ball told Andrew Lopez of ESPN and other media members on Monday he’d like to stay.

“That’s a conversation between me and my agent moving forward. But obviously I would love to be back,” Ball said. “I built a bond here with the coaches and the teammates who are here. I definitely wouldn’t mind coming back at all.”

Franchise player Zion Williamson is also hoping that Ball will remain. The front office will have to extend a $14.36MM qualifying offer to prevent Ball from becoming an unrestricted free agent, then would have the ability to match any offer sheet he signs.

“I really would want ‘Zo to come back,” Williamson said. “He knows that. But you know, like I said, the reality of the situation is ‘Zo is a grown man, so he’ll make the decision that’s best for him. The only thing I can say is I hope he stays.”

We have more on the Pelicans:

  • Brandon Ingram is another fan of Ball’s, calling him a “generational” talent due to his passing ability, Lopez tweets. Ingram is also hopeful that another one of the Pelicans’ RFAs, Josh Hart ($5.23MM qualifying offer), will stay put.
  • The injury big man Jaxson Hayes suffered in the season finale on Sunday was a muscle contusion, Will Guillory of The Athletic tweets. Hayes confirms the injury is a short-term issue, Lopez tweets“There’s a little bit of swelling and I can’t bend it too well,” Hayes said. “But it’s just a contusion. I’ll be fine in a week or so.”
  • Executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin said he purposely kept the team under the luxury tax, though there was no mandate from ownership. He said his bosses are willing to pay the tax in the future once it becomes a serious title contender, Lopez relays in a string of tweets. “It was something where we didn’t want to start our clock,” Griffin said. “I think this organization and ownership team has been very clear with us that when we have a chance to put the pedal to the medal and build a championship team… I believe there is a willingness to do that. But it’s about picking your spots.”
  • Finding the right combination of players around Williamson is the ultimate front office goal for the franchise, Bobby Marks of ESPN (Insider link) writes. Marks takes a deep dive into the Pelicans’ offseason decisions, their cap situation, and the draft. New Orleans owns not only a lottery pick but four second-rounders.

Injury Updates: Lakers, Nets, Hornets, Pelicans, Mavs, C’s

The NBA’s injury report is of particular interest this week in the regular season’s final days, as we wait to see which players may or may not be available for teams fighting for playoff positioning.

A pair of big-market superstars, LeBron James and James Harden, are said to be targeting Wednesday returns for the Lakers and Nets, respectively. James has been listed as questionable by the Lakers, while Harden is probable for Brooklyn.

Each of those teams also has another star player whose status for Wednesday’s games is up in the air. Lakers big man Anthony Davis is questionable due to left adductor tightness, while Kyrie Irving is questionable due to the facial contusion he suffered on Tuesday.

The Nets hold the No. 2 seed in the East and the Lakers are hosting a Houston team that is 5-43 since February 4, so neither club should feel a ton of urgency to push its stars back into action if they’re not quite ready.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Hornets forward Miles Bridges, out since May 2 due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, has a chance to return this weekend, head coach James Borrego said today. However, Borrego’s responses to questions about Gordon Hayward‘s foot injury made it sound as if Hayward may not be ready for the play-in tournament, says Rod Boone of SI.com (Twitter links). Hayward hasn’t played since April 2.
  • The Pelicans need a win tonight in Dallas to remain in the hunt for a play-in spot, but they’ll be missing a number of key players, as Andrew Lopez of ESPN tweets. Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, and Steven Adams all remain out, and Lonzo Ball (right thumb) will join them on the sidelines.
  • Mavericks guard J.J. Redick, who left Tuesday’s game with right heel soreness, will also miss Wednesday’s game vs. New Orleans, writes Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News.
  • The Celtics, who appear likely to finish the regular season at No. 7 in the East, will be without Kemba Walker (left knee) and Marcus Smart (right calf) on Wednesday in Cleveland, notes Tom Withers of The Associated Press. Jaylen Brown has already been ruled out for the season, and Robert Williams remains on the shelf as well.

Pelicans Notes: Ingram, Griffin, Williamson, Marshall

The Pelicans made big news on Friday when they announced Zion Williamson would be out indefinitely with a fractured left ring finger. Somewhat under the radar was GM David Griffin’s comment about Brandon Ingram‘s status. Griffin said that Ingram’s left ankle sprain “is going to sideline him indefinitely,” Andrew Lopez of ESPN tweets. Ingram was injured during Tuesday’s game against Golden State.

We have more on the Pelicans:

  • As we noted, Griffin ripped the league’s officiating regarding Williamson, despite the fact he’s among the top five in the league in free throws per game. Griffin says Williamson’s power game and physical style shouldn’t influence how games are officiated, Christian Clark of the New Orleans Times Picayune relays. “I’ve heard officials say this to (head coach) Stan (Van Gundy): ‘Look, the kid’s a beast. He just brings about a bunch of contact,’” Griffin said. “OK, well that doesn’t have anything to do with what you’re supposed to be calling. I almost feel like they didn’t know how to deal with someone so sudden and so strong. So they sort of threw their hands up in the air.”
  • Griffin’s claims regarding the lack of calls for Williamson are broken down in detail by Will Guillory of The Athletic. Guillory says that Griffin’s claims have some validity, balanced out by the fact that the league doesn’t want every game to turn into a parade to the free throw line. Thus, while it’s logical for Griffin to support his franchise player, his claims will likely fall on deaf ears.
  • Newcomer Naji Marshall will receive approximately $120K this season, about double the minimum he could have gotten, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Instagram video). The breakdown on Marshall’s four-year contract include a $1.5MM guarantee for next season, $1.8MM for the 2022/23 season and a $1.93MM team option in 2023/24.

Injury Notes: Ingram, Vucevic, LeBron, Magic

An MRI has revealed that Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram suffered a left low-ankle sprain during the team’s 108-103 victory over the Warriors on Tuesday, the team has announced via Twitter. Ingram is set to miss Friday night’s contest against the Sixers and is considered day-to-day with the injury beyond that.

Losing Ingram, the club’s second-leading scorer behind All-Star forward Zion Williamson, could be a major blow for New Orleans as the team strives to qualify for the play-in tournament in a crowded Western Conference field. With a 30-36 record, the Pelicans currently sit just two games behind the Spurs for a shot at the play-in tournament in the West this season.

There’s more injury news from around the league:

  • Bulls All-Star center Nikola Vučević (adductor) was able to fully participate in a team practice today, tweets K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Head coach Billy Donovan commented that the sharp-shooting big man, who has missed the club’s last two games, “looked fine.”
  • Lakers All-Star forward LeBron James will miss at least the next two games and potentially more as he grapples with fresh, sharp pain in his sprained ankle, Dave McMenamin told Rachel Nichols and Richard Jefferson on ESPN’s The Jump (Twitter video link). A source informed McMenamin that James is “focusing on the big picture” right now. “Does ‘big picture’ mean two more games missed? I’m not so sure,” McMenamin said. “He is clearly prioritizing using every bit of time he can to… get back for the playoffs.”
  • Magic head coach Steve Clifford has indicated that five injured players could miss the rest of the 2020/21 NBA season, tweets Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel. Point guard Michael Carter-Williams and power forward Chuma Okeke are both sidelined with ankle sprains. Wing James Ennis is unavailable with a sore calf. Injury-prone forward Otto Porter Jr., who has played in just 28 games this season for the Magic and Bulls, is struggling with foot pain. Swingman Terrence Ross has been felled by back spasms. “I don’t even know what the time frame [is],” Clifford conceded. “If you look at the schedule now, it’s seven games, I think it’d be 12 days, and I’m not sure even if any of those guys are that close, to be honest with you.”

USA Basketball Expands Finalist List for Olympic Roster

Fifteen players have been added to the list of finalists for the U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team, USA Basketball announced today in a press release. The group will eventually be pared down to 12 players who will participate in the Olympic Games, which are set for July 23 to August 8 in Tokyo.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich will serve as coach for the U.S. team, with Warriors coach Steve Kerr, Villanova coach Jay Wright and former Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce as his assistants.

No tryouts will be held this year. Instead, USA Basketball will choose the final roster by early summer. Training camp is scheduled to being in early July before the conclusion of the NBA playoffs.

“With the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics from 2020 to 2021, it’s important that we continue to remain flexible and consider all players who can contribute to our efforts to field the best USA team possible,” USA Basketball men’s national team managing director Jerry Colangelo said. “These additions we are announcing today will help ensure that we are doing that. Having a larger player pool than what we normally have is critical because of all of the uncertainties we face about availability. But for USA Basketball to receive the commitment of so many outstanding players remains an indicator of the great honor of representing your country means to these men.”

The new names under consideration are:

  1. Jarrett Allen (Cavaliers)
  2. Eric Gordon (Rockets)
  3. Jerami Grant (Pistons)
  4. Blake Griffin (Nets)
  5. Jrue Holiday (Bucks)
  6. DeAndre Jordan (Nets)
  7. Zach LaVine (Bulls)
  8. Julius Randle (Knicks)
  9. Duncan Robinson (Heat)
  10. Mitchell Robinson (Knicks)
  11. Fred VanVleet (Raptors)
  12. John Wall (Rockets)
  13. Zion Williamson (Pelicans)
  14. Christian Wood (Rockets)
  15. Trae Young (Hawks)

Forty-two players remain from the original list, which was announced in February 2020:

  1. Bam Adebayo (Heat)
  2. LaMarcus Aldridge (Spurs)
  3. Harrison Barnes (Kings)
  4. Bradley Beal (Wizards)
  5. Devin Booker (Suns)
  6. Malcolm Brogdon (Pacers)
  7. Jaylen Brown (Celtics)
  8. Jimmy Butler (Heat)
  9. Mike Conley (Jazz)
  10. Stephen Curry (Warriors)
  11. Anthony Davis (Lakers)
  12. DeMar DeRozan (Spurs)
  13. Andre Drummond (Cavaliers)
  14. Kevin Durant (Nets)
  15. Paul George (Clippers)
  16. Draymond Green (Warriors)
  17. James Harden (Nets)
  18. Montrezl Harrell (Lakers)
  19. Joe Harris (Nets)
  20. Tobias Harris (76ers)
  21. Gordon Hayward (Hornets)
  22. Dwight Howard (Sixers)
  23. Brandon Ingram (Pelicans)
  24. Kyrie Irving (Nets)
  25. LeBron James (Lakers)
  26. Kyle Kuzma (Lakers)
  27. Kawhi Leonard (Clippers)
  28. Damian Lillard (Blazers)
  29. Brook Lopez (Bucks)
  30. Kevin Love (Cavaliers)
  31. Kyle Lowry (Raptors)
  32. JaVale McGee (Cavaliers)
  33. Khris Middleton (Bucks)
  34. Donovan Mitchell (Jazz)
  35. Victor Oladipo (Rockets)
  36. Chris Paul (Suns)
  37. Mason Plumlee (Pistons)
  38. Jayson Tatum (Celtics)
  39. Myles Turner (Pacers)
  40. Kemba Walker (Celtics)
  41. Russell Westbrook (Wizards)
  42. Derrick White (Spurs)

Two players removed from that list are Warriors guard Klay Thompson, who is out for the season with a torn Achilles tendon, and Celtics guard Marcus Smart. Sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic that Smart turned down an invitation because of injury concerns due to having a short offseason and playing late into consecutive seasons (Twitter link).

Southwest Notes: Curry, Mavs, Murray, Ball, Pelicans

Seth Curry played a key role in the Sixers‘ win over the Mavericks on Thursday, scoring 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting and recording a plus-17 rating in his 29 minutes. Asked after the game if playing against the team that traded him away in the fall provided any extra motivation, Curry responded with a smile.

“Nah, never nothing personal, man,” the Sixers guard said, per Jordan Greer of Sporting News. “I got a lot of respect for a lot of those guys over there (with the Mavericks). I just think they made a bad business decision, but it happens all the time, you know what I’m saying? It is what it is.”

Curry’s ability to knock down 3-pointers has been crucial this season for the Sixers, who weren’t getting that same floor spacing from Josh Richardson. Curry has made a career-best 46.8% of his attempts from beyond the arc this season, while Richardson has a career-worst .301 3PT% for the Mavericks.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Spurs guard Dejounte Murray was hit with a $25K fine by the NBA for kicking the game ball into the stands at the end of the team’s loss to Oklahoma City on Wednesday, the league announced in a press release.
  • After getting off to a slow start this season, Lonzo Ball has played well in his past 20 games, creating a difficult decision for the Pelicans, writes Christian Clark of NOLA.com. Moving Ball before the trade deadline would open up more minutes for youngsters Kira Lewis and Nickeil Alexander-Walker and would allow New Orleans to avoid paying Ball in restricted free agency, but it would also mean moving on from an improving 23-year-old point guard who has developed good chemistry with franchise player Zion Williamson.
  • Speaking of Williamson, Clark notes in a separate NOLA.com story that the partnership between the former No. 1 overall pick and Pelicans teammate Brandon Ingram has come a long way. “Our relationship off the court has always been there,” Williamson said. “It’s never been a problem with that. I think when it came to on the court, we wanted to learn each other and certain parts of the game. Now, we just kind of know.”