Pelicans Rumors

Pelicans Hire Stan Van Gundy As Head Coach

OCTOBER 22: The Pelicans have made it official, announcing in a press release that they’ve hired Van Gundy as their new head coach.

“This opportunity was one that I was really attracted to due in large part to David Griffin’s record of putting together highly competitive, talented teams in a great family atmosphere,” Van Gundy said in a statement. “When I got into the interview process and had a chance to meet with Mrs. (Gayle) Benson, Dennis Lauscha, Griff, Trajan Langdon, Swin Cash and the Pelicans front office, it became clear how committed and invested they are to winning.

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

“Stan’s track record of success as a head coach speaks for itself,” Griffin said in a statement of his own. “His ability to teach while building genuine relationships was one of his many strengths that drew us to him. We feel like we are hiring one of the most accomplished leaders and authentic human beings in the NBA.”

OCTOBER 21: Former NBA coach and current TNT analyst Stan Van Gundy has agreed to a deal that will make him the new head coach of the Pelicans, according to Adrian Wojnarowski and Andrew Lopez of ESPN. Van Gundy will sign a four-year contract with New Orleans, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

“I’m excited to join a talented New Orleans Pelicans team,” Van Gundy wrote on Twitter. “It will be an honor to work with our players and to work for Mrs. (Gayle) Benson and David Griffin, Trajan Langdon, their staff and the great people of New Orleans. I can’t wait to talk to our players and get the process started.”

Van Gundy previously served as the head coach for the Heat, Magic, and Pistons, enjoying his most successful run in Orlando, where he led the Magic to a 259-135 (.657) record over five seasons and made the NBA Finals in 2009.

Van Gundy, who also had a winning record (112-73) in Miami, had a shakier experience in Detroit from 2014-18, compiling a 152-176 (.463) mark. However, he held a dual role with the Pistons, working as the team’s president of basketball operations in addition to his head coaching duties. With David Griffin in place as the head of basketball operations in New Orleans, Van Gundy will be free to focus solely on coaching in his new position.

As the Pelicans’ new head coach, Van Gundy will be tasked with developing a young core led by Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, and Lonzo Ball. Assuming New Orleans doesn’t shake up its roster too drastically this fall, Van Gundy should also have veterans like Jrue Holiday and J.J. Redick in his lineup as he looks to lead the team back to the postseason for the first time since 2018.

The Pelicans, who dismissed Alvin Gentry following a disappointing showing at Walt Disney World in Orlando this summer, interviewed a total of nine candidates for their head coaching vacancy after gathering intel on several other candidates, tweets Will Guillory of The Athletic.

A report last week indicated that the Pelicans were narrowing their search to four finalists, including Van Gundy and Tyronn Lue, who was later promoted by the Clippers. The other finalists weren’t identified, but SVG clearly stood out during the process, impressing Griffin, per Scott Kushner of The Times Picayune (Twitter link).

According to Guillory and Wojnarowski, Van Gundy’s winning track record and his ability to teach a young roster helped sell the Pelicans on hiring him. His personnel decisions in Detroit weren’t a factor the Pelicans considered, according to Wojnarowski, who adds that SVG’s history of building top defensive teams was a factor in New Orleans’ decision as well. Van Gundy’s teams ranked in the top half of the league in all but one of his 11 full seasons as a head coach, per ESPN.

With Van Gundy headed to New Orleans, only two of the nine NBA teams that have parted ways with a head coach this year have yet to make a hire — the Thunder and the Rockets. Stan’s brother Jeff Van Gundy is reportedly one of the leading candidates for the Houston job.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.”

Goodwill’s Latest: ’20/21 Schedule, Holiday, Nuggets, Raptors

The NBA is eyeing Martin Luther King Day (January 18) as a potential start date for the 2020/21 regular season, sources tell Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports. According to Goodwill, the league still isn’t ruling out the possibility of a Christmas Day start, but recognizes that MLK Day may be a more realistic target, especially if it wants to have any chance of getting fans back in arenas for opening night.

There’s no guarantee that the season will start by January 18, but the NBA would like to get back to its typical October-to-June calendar for the 2021/22 season if possible, says Goodwill. The league will give teams and players eight weeks of notice before the start of next season.

Here’s more from Goodwill:

  • It remains to be seen whether the Pelicans will seriously consider trading Jrue Holiday this offseason, but many teams think trimming salary will be a priority for New Orleans, per Goodwill, and if Holiday’s available, he’s expected to be a popular target. Sources tell Yahoo Sports that about 10 teams have inquired on the veteran guard, with the Nuggets expected to be his most aggressive suitors.
  • One issue the NBA will have to resolve for the 2020/21 season is where the Raptors will play if teams return to their respective home arenas. Assuming there are still restrictions in place on travel between the U.S. and Canada by the time the NBA season begins, the team could end up sharing another NBA market or even playing in Louisville, says Goodwill. The city of Louisville has an NBA-ready arena, and businessman and former NBA player Junior Bridgeman has been in contact with the league about the possibility, Goodwill adds.
  • The Raptors’ situation is one of a handful of items to be discussed on a Board of Governors call this Friday, along with the Collective Bargaining Agreement and competitive formats for next season, Goodwill writes.

Thunder Notes: Weaver, Gallinari, Coaching Search

The Thunder‘s head coaching search now includes former Sixers and Nets assistant Will Weaver, sources tell Mitch Lawrence of SiriusXM NBA Radio (Twitter link). Weaver, who coached the Long Island Nets in 2018/19, currently serves as the head coach of the Sydney Kings in Australia’s National Basketball League.

In an episode of his Hoop Collective podcast earlier this month, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst linked Weaver to the Pelicans‘ head coaching search, noting that the veteran coach has a working relationship with New Orleans’ general manager Trajan Langdon. As Windhorst explains, the Pelicans’ decision to send 2019 second-round pick Didi Louzada to Sydney was related to Weaver’s presence there.

Relaying Windhorst’s comments last week, Matt Logue of The Australian wrote that “it is understood” that Weaver will interview for the Thunder’s open head coaching job.

While we wait to see if anything more concrete materializes between Weaver and two of the teams still seeking head coaches, here are a few more Thunder-related items:

  • An unrestricted free agent this fall, Danilo Gallinari published a tweet on Tuesday asking, “Where to next?” There’s still a chance Gallinari could return to the Thunder for the 2020/21 season, as Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman writes. However, Oklahoma City is believed to be mulling a rebuild and Gallinari’s Tuesday tweet suggests he’s preparing to play elsewhere next season.
  • Elsewhere at The Oklahoman, Mussatto continues to profile coaches who he believes could become candidates for the Thunder’s head coaching vacancy. In recent days, he has taken a closer look at Trail Blazers assistant Nate Tibbetts, Bucks assistant Charles Lee, Sixers assistant Ime Udoka, and Dayton head coach Anthony Grant.
  • In case you missed it last week, we previewed the Thunder’s major upcoming offseason decisions, including the possibility of a Chris Paul trade.

Nets, Pelicans Discussed Jrue Holiday At Trade Deadline

The Nets and Pelicans spoke in February about the possibility about a Jrue Holiday trade, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said today on his Hoop Collective podcast (hat tip to NetsDaily).

“I think it’s been reported,” Windhorst said of those talks. “But if it hasn’t been reported, I found out somewhere – I don’t think it was from an executive, maybe it was – that there was some discussion between the Nets and Pelicans in February.”

Brooklyn and New Orleans obviously didn’t reach a deal at last season’s trade deadline, but with Holiday on a potential expiring contract in 2020/21 (he has a player option for ’21/22), it’s possible the Pelicans will revisit the idea of a trade during the coming offseason.

“I’m not 100% convinced that the Pelicans are going to move him,” Windhorst said. “I think it’s an option for them. I think it also depends on the coach that they hire and the way that coach wants to play. But they did kick it around (last season).”

Veteran guards Holiday and J.J. Redick are both on track to reach free agency in 2021. The Pelicans could keep their roster relatively intact this fall, retaining those vets and counting on further development from the likes of Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, and Lonzo Ball to make them a playoff team next season. But if New Orleans decides to shop its veterans in search of pieces whose timelines match up better with the team’s young core, the Nets could be a logical trade partner.

Brooklyn has the pieces necessary to make a run at a third star to complement Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, especially if the team is willing to make Caris LeVert available. With few impact players viewed as obvious trade candidates in the short term, Holiday could immediately become the most intriguing option available if the Pelicans put him on the trade block.

Man Attempts To Steal Car With Benson Inside; Examining Whether Van Gundy Could Help Pelicans

  • A man attempted to steal a car with Pelicans owner Gayle Benson sitting inside of it on October 10, as relayed by Ramon Antonio Vargas and Amie Just of The man aborted his plan after Benson screamed at him to leave the vehicle, fleeing the scene in a white Nissan Titan. “While she was very shaken at the time, she was unharmed and is doing fine,” Pelicans spokesman Greg Bensel said of Benson. “She wanted to send her sincere gratitude to the men and women of the New Orleans Police Department that responded so quickly and professionally.”
  • William Guillory of The Athletic ponders whether Stan Van Gundy could provide the structure and winning mentality the Pelicans crave. Van Gundy appears to be one of the finalists for New Orleans’ head coaching job, which was made vacant when the team fired Alvin Gentry in August.

Jason Kidd Not In Mix For Pelicans' Coaching Job

  • We know that Stan Van Gundy and Tyronn Lue are two of four finalists for the Pelicans‘ head coaching job. Charania says that the two other finalists are expected to interview with the club next week. While the identities of those two candidates is unknown for now, Jason Kidd – who has previously been linked to the position – isn’t part of the process for now, per Charania..


Community Shootaround: Western Conference Odds For 2020/21

After winning the NBA Finals in 2020, the Lakers are currently listed by sportsbooks as the odds-on frontrunners to do so again in 2021.

Over at, oddsmakers have listed the Lakers as +275 favorites to come out of the Western Conference in 2020/21. That means if you place a $100 bet on the Lakers and they win the West next season, you’ll win $275.

While the Lakers are the current favorites, places two other Western Conference teams in roughly the same tier. The Clippers (+375) have the second-best odds to win the conference, while the Warriors (+400) have the third-best odds.

Golden State’s placement is an interesting one. We can safely assume that the Warriors will be much improved in 2020/21 with a healthy Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson back in their lineup, and they have the resources necessary to make further roster upgrades. Still, the club is coming off a dismal 15-50 season that saw them finish in last place in the NBA. Winning the West in 2021 would represent a historic turnaround.

The rest of the odds to win the West next year are as follows, per

  • Nuggets: +1200
  • Rockets: +1200
  • Mavericks: +1400
  • Trail Blazers: +1800
  • Jazz: +2500
  • Pelicans: +2500
  • Suns: +3300
  • Thunder: +4000
  • Grizzlies: +5000
  • Kings: +12500
  • Spurs: +12500
  • Timberwolves: +12500

As we acknowledged on Tuesday when we asked you for your thoughts on the Eastern Conference odds for 2020/21, it’s way too early to confidently predict next year’s conference champions. Rosters will undergo significant changes in the coming months in the draft and free agency, and on the trade market.

Still, the anticipated offseason directions for certain teams is baked into BetOnline’s odds. The Thunder would certainly be higher on the above list if the possibility of a rebuild wasn’t hanging over the franchise.

So, with the caveat that plenty could change in the coming months to alter the outlook of the West for the 2020/21 season, we want to get your thoughts on the early projections from oddsmakers.

Should the Lakers be considered the favorites to come out of the West again in 2021? Are the Warriors or another team being overvalued? Are there other clubs being undervalued? Which team do you like to come out of the West next season? And which club do you view as the best value pick based on the odds listed above?

Head to the comment section below to weigh in with your early forecast for the Western Conference in 2020/21!

Chris Finch Considered Frontrunner For Pacers Job

Pelicans assistant Chris Finch is considered the frontrunner for the Pacers coaching job, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer tweets. This is the first indication which way Indiana’s front office is leaning as it searches for Nate McMillan‘s replacement.

We’ve heard about about a number of candidates, including former head coaches Mike D’AntoniMike Brown, and Dave Joerger as well as top assistants around the league, including Darvin HamIme Udoka, and David Vanterpool. ESPN analyst and 2004 Finals MVP Chauncey Billups also reportedly received an interview.

Joerger had been considered a strong contender for the job.

As Scott Agness of tweeted earlier this week, Heat assistants Chris Quinn and Dan Craig are next in line for interviews, O’Connor confirms.

Finch has also been mentioned as a candidate for the Rockets’ head coaching job. After the Pelicans parted ways with Alvin Gentry following the seeding games in Orlando, VP of basketball operations David Griffin spoke highly of Finch and indicated that he wanted to retain him, while acknowledging the assistant would draw interest from other teams as a head coaching prospect.

Stan Van Gundy, Tyronn Lue Among Pelicans’ Finalists

Stan Van Gundy and Tyronn Lue are expected to be among the finalists for the Pelicans‘ head coaching job, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

According to Wojnarowski, Van Gundy is meeting with New Orleans team officials today, while Lue has a meeting set for later this week. The Pelicans are expected to identify a group of four finalists to replace Alvin Gentry, per Woj.

So far this year, we’ve heard Jeff Van Gundy linked to multiple NBA head coaching jobs – including the Clippers’ and Rockets’ openings – but there hadn’t been a whole lot of chatter about the possibility of his brother returning to the sidelines.

Stan Van Gundy previously served as the head coach for the Heat, Magic, and Pistons, enjoying his most successful run in Orlando, where he led the Magic to a 259-135 (.657) record over five seasons and made the NBA Finals in 2009.

Van Gundy had a shakier experience in Detroit from 2014-18, compiling a 152-176 (.463) record. However, he held a dual role with the Pistons, also working as the team’s president of basketball operations. Presumably, he wouldn’t be nearly as involved in personnel decisions if he were to be hired by New Orleans, freeing him up to focus on coaching.

As for Lue, he has long been viewed as a potential favorite for the Pelicans’ job, given his connection to executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin — the two men worked together in Cleveland. Lue is also very much in the mix for the Clippers‘ and Rockets‘ jobs, so it’s possible he’ll end up having to choose between two or more offers.