The New Orleans Pelicans are pulling from the broadcast booth to hire a new head coach, as Stan Van Gundy has agreed to take over for the job left vacant by the firing of Alvin Gentry.
The news was first reported by ESPN, as Van Gundy will now coach his fourth NBA team. He began his head coaching career with the Miami Heat in 2003, then coached the Magic and Pistons. His best years were in Orlando when he guided a Dwight Howard-led team to the NBA Finals in 2009.
Van Gundy will lead the Pelicans with a young and ascending roster built around Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram. Williamson was the No. 1 pick a year ago and Ingram blossomed into an All-Star this past season, his first with New Orleans after coming over from Los Angeles in the Anthony Davis trade.
Clearly, the Pelicans and GM David Griffin were seeking someone with experience, as Van Gundy has been an NBA coach going all the way back to 1995 when he started out as an assistant with the Heat. The Pacers, for example, went in a different direction this week by hiring a first-time coach, Raptors assistant Nate Bjorkgren.
New Orleans will now hope Van Gundy can take the Pelicans from a team with promise to a legitimate contender. They have some nice pieces with Williamson and Ingram, plus Jrue Holiday, Lonzo Ball, Jaxson Hayes and Nickeil Walker-Alexander.
The Pelicans have the talent to make the playoffs next season, but it won't be easy after going 30-42 in 2019-20 and while playing in the Western Conference. This will be Van Gundy's first foray in the West, which has been the tougher conference for decades.
Van Gundy also failed at his most recent stop in Detroit. In four seasons with the Pistons, he held a .463 win percentage. His win percentage with both Miami and Orlando was north of .600.
Maybe he can prove his stint in Detroit was the aberration. It will likely depend on how much Williamson and Ingram develop under his watch.