NBA Rumor: Pelicans Coaching Search

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In those talks, which included a dinner in Chicago, Griffin previewed the same level of influence he has utilized throughout the executive’s tenure in New Orleans, where members of Van Gundy’s coaching staff and Alvin Gentry’s before his often mentioned Griffin’s preferred involvement in areas such as minutes, rotations and skill development, primarily for the players he has drafted since 2019. With Vaughn, sources said, Griffin had specific ideas to fill out the coach’s entire assistant group, envisioning Bucks assistant Charles Lee as the associate head coach, plus a starting backcourt of Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Kira Lewis.

When asked who he thinks should be the next coach, Van Gundy vouched for Pelicans assistant coach Fred Vinson, who would bring some stability to the fact that Williamson will be on his third head coach in three seasons and Ingram will be on his fourth coach in four years. “But if you stick with a guy like Fred Vinson, he’s been here even before Alvin Gentry,” Van Gundy said of Vinson, who has been with the Pelicans organization since 2010 under then coach Monty Williams.

Jacque Vaughn, Charles Lee main contenders for Pelicans bench

It has been a little less than two weeks since Van Gundy and the Pelicans agreed to “mutually part ways.” Since then, the Pelicans have talked to a handful of candidates, many of whom they were familiar with from their search last year, and are in the process of completing in-person interviews. At this stage, there are two candidates who are viewed as the strongest contenders to get the job, league sources said: Brooklyn Nets assistant Jacque Vaughn and Milwaukee Bucks assistant Charles Lee.

Two potential in-house candidates to replace Van Gundy are assistants Fred Vinson and Teresa Weatherspoon, though Griffin said during his news conference Wednesday that her candidacy was “premature.” If hired, of course, Weatherspoon would not just be the first woman full-time head coach in the NBA, but in any major American men’s professional sport. Outside candidates likely to get a look include Chauncey Billups, currently a Clippers assistant, and Jacque Vaughn, an assistant in Brooklyn.

JJ Redick put in the good word for SVG

Everyone has been talking about the New Orleans Pelicans and how head coach Stan Van Gundy almost came out of nowhere to land their head coaching job. Though not a lot of players in the current Pelicans roster know their newly acquired head coach on a personal level, it’s been reported that his former player in JJ Redick actually played a huge role in helping the front office in pursue the 61-year old head coach. “JJ Redick, I have been told, had a big role here.” ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on ‘The Jump’. “JJ played for him [in Orlando], was a big part of the background and recruiting process.”

“I am honored and excited to coach this talented group of players in New Orleans,” said Van Gundy. “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. When I got into the interview process and had a chance to meet with Mrs. Benson, Dennis Lauscha, Griff, Trajan Langdon, Swin Cash and the Pelicans front office, it became clear how committed and invested they are to winning. My wife Kim and I want to thank Mrs. Benson, along with Griff, Trajan, Swin and the front office for welcoming our family and entrusting me to lead this team. We look forward to working with this great organization and getting involved in the New Orleans community.”

“It is a pleasure to welcome Stan and his family to New Orleans,” said Pelicans Governor Gayle Benson. “Stan’s basketball acumen and record of accomplishment are a tremendous fit for this team right now. We look forward to Stan bringing a level of sustained success for our Pelicans on the court. I also want to commend David Griffin, Trajan Langdon, Swin Cash and the entire front office for the time and effort put into this comprehensive head coaching search.”

As New Orleans’ front office navigated the coaching waters, Van Gundy’s reputation as a teacher of the game in his 11-plus seasons as an NBA head coach stood out – teaching that will become key as New Orleans attempts to make the leap with a young roster. Van Gundy’s teams also have always stood out on the defensive end. In the 11 seasons he finished as a head coach, Van Gundy’s teams were in the top half in the NBA in defensive rating 10 times – including his last three seasons in Detroit. His teams finished top 10 in defensive rating eight of those seasons.

Van Gundy’s reputation as a teacher of the game in 11-plus seasons with the Miami Heat, Orlando Magic and Detroit Pistons has made him a formidable candidate for a young Pelicans roster. The Pelicans — 30-42 and 13th in the Western Conference last season — have a young core that includes Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, as well as veterans Jrue Holiday and JJ Redick. The Pelicans are expected to be a team capable of making significant progress in the standings in the next few years.

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July 28, 2021 | 2:24 pm EDT Update
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I had a conversation with one scout yesterday who spoke to USA TODAY Sports Media Group on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on behalf of their team. They said Virginia’s Trey Murphy was the player who had helped himself the most during the pre-draft process. You can see why when you read my interview with Murphy — he has an excellent understanding of the game.
According to one prospect who recently spoke to For The Win, due to COVID-19 restrictions, those not invited to the green room are not allowed to come to the stage and shake the hand of the commissioner as they have been in years past. Regardless of who is actually in the building, however, it is certain to be an exciting and life-changing night for the next generation of NBA talent. Based on conversations I’ve had with scouts around the league, and from reports and tea leaves left in other mock drafts from trusted draftniks, below is how I project the events will unfold at Barclays Center and on ESPN and ABC at 8:00 p.m. ET on July 29.
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