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Reports: Tension between Stan Van Gundy, Pelicans players

Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - MARCH 27: Head coach Stan Van Gundy of the New Orleans Pelicans talks to Naji Marshall #8, Kira Lewis Jr. #13, Eric Bledsoe #5, Zion Williamson #1 and Josh Hart #3 during a game against the Dallas Mavericks at the Smoothie King Center on March 27, 2021 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

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The Pelicans hired Stan Van Gundy to instill accountability and help the team achieve its short-term goals.

New Orleans finished 31-41 and outside even the expanded postseason. After failing to execute the game plan late in a loss last month, Pelicans guard Eric Bledsoe admitted he wasn’t paying attention in the huddle.

Something is clearly amiss.

Sam Amick of The Athletic on KHTK Sports Sacramento:

New Orleans, where the players are not vibing with the coach. There’s issues there.

Scott Kushner of

Various sources have said there was tension between Van Gundy and his players during the season (typical of a new coach on a disappointing team).

Pelicans players might say Van Gundy is too hard on them. He might say they lack winning habits.

Both sides would be right.

The big question: How do they proceed?

Losing exacerbates most problems, but it’s not as if next season will just offer a clean slate. Animosity developed during this frustrating season can fester. If everyone is sick of each other, that would make it more difficult for New Orleans to reverse momentum and start winning.

Pelicans lead executive David Griffin bears primary responsibility going forward. He must set a roster and coaching staff that can work together productively.

New Orleans has a tremendous opportunity building around Zion Williamson. Fostering a better culture is essential.