Stan Van Gundy Rumors
“I know this, regardless of what happened in that regard, Zion’s no coach killer. He’s a guy who is gonna help you win a lot of games. He plays the game the right way. One of the things I’ll miss is the opportunity to continue to coach him. He’s so unique in the way that he plays the game and the things that he can do, it really gets your mind spinning as a coach and you have a lot of possibilities in what you can do with him. That was fun to explore. I’m happy with what we did with Zion. I think we helped him. How anyone else felt about that would be up to them.”
“I don’t know anything about that,” Van Gundy said. “In my mind, I liked coaching Zion. I had a good relationship with him. I had no problem. I think we elevated his platform that we gave him. We put him in different situations, had him handling the ball a lot, playing a lot of point guard. I think we did some good things with him. “If they were unhappy, I didn’t hear about it. Zion was unhappy with us not winning more games, but Zion never expressed to me any of that. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t unhappy, it’s possible that they were unhappy with me and that’s what led to the change.”
“I would say it was joint in this sense: I think you can understand this, I don’t want to be somewhere they don’t want me. And they didn’t want me. I wasn’t at that point going to fight to try to stay there,” Van Gundy said. “When I left Detroit, my owner there who I really liked Tom Gores, also said it was a mutual decision. I said yeah, ‘Tom asked me to leave so I left.’ I guess that’s mutual.”
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.
According to several sources, tension arose between both coaches and Griffin when management tried to incorporate its preferences into player evaluations, rotations and general strategy. The strain led to a recognition of differing philosophies between the coaching staff and front office, pulling the Pelicans away from the “shared vision” Griffin so commonly refers to when addressing franchise goals.
Year 2 didn’t get much better. The same struggles with defense, late-game situations and blown leads that riddled the team under Gentry were just as prominent under Van Gundy, Griffin’s chosen successor. Again, the relationship between coach and exec quickly soured as well. Sources say it was obvious by the end of the year that Gayle Benson had to remove one of them. Meanwhile, former guard J.J. Redick ripped the team on his podcast after feeling he wasn’t dealt with honestly regarding a midseason trade.
Parting ways with Stan Van Gundy after just one season is not the biggest problem facing the New Orleans Pelicans. They have been unable to put together the right elements to make rising star Zion Williamson and his family happy, and multiple sources have told The Athletic that certain family members want Williamson on another team.