The New Orleans Pelicans have reportedly found their guy. Stan Van Gundy has agreed to a deal to become the next coach of the Pelicans, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Andrew Lopez. The deal is for four years, per Shams Charania of The Athletic. Van Gundy last served as the coach of the Detroit Pistons from 2014 to 2018. Prior to that, he coached the Orlando Magic from 2007 to 2012 and the Miami Heat from 2003 to 2005.
Van Gundy has experience when it comes to leading teams deep into the postseason. He led the Heat to the Eastern Conference finals in 2005 (they lost to the Detroit Pistons in seven games) and his Orlando Magic team made it to the NBA Finals in 2009 where they lost to the Kobe Bryant-led Los Angeles Lakers in five games. The Magic also made it back to the conference finals in 2010.
In New Orleans, Van Gundy becomes the seventh head coach in franchise history, and he will serve as the successor to Alvin Gentry, who the Pelicans parted ways with in August after the team failed to qualify for postseason play for the fourth time in five seasons. Van Gundy made it known shortly after the initial reports that he had accepted the job that he was excited to inherit a young roster that is teeming with talent — including Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, Jrue Holiday, and Lonzo Ball — as he will be tasked with building the team into a perennial contender in the competitive Western Conference.
Van Gundy’s reputation as a great teacher of the game, along with the fact that his team’s have typically been solid defensively were reportedly major factors in New Orleans’ decision to hire him. Considering the fact that the Pelicans are such a young team, that teaching ability is expected to come in handy.
During his four seasons in Detroit, Van Gundy held a dual-title of both president and coach. As such, he was responsible for making personnel decisions. That won’t be the case in New Orleans though, as he will serve simply the coach of the Pelicans, per Wojnarowski. Under Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin the Pelicans have built a solid front office and a respectable roster — a roster that Van Gundy is assuredly excited to get to coach given the fact that he gushed over it on Twitter in July.
“How good can NO be? Well, since Zion came back they were 11-9 and ranked 11th offensively and 8th defensively,” Van Gundy wrote. “And they have 8 guys 25 or younger (Zion, Ingram, Ball, Hart, Jackson, Hayes, Alexander-Walker and Okafor). Pelicans fans have to be excited.”
With all of the young talent on the roster, Pelicans fans should indeed be excited, and now that the team has hired an experienced, respected head coach they have even more reason for optimism.