The older Van Gundy brother, legendary NBA coach Stan Van Gundy has come to an agreement with the New Orleans Pelicans to be their next head coach. Van Gundy reportedly signed a 4-year deal with the Pelicans and will be replacing Alvin Gentry who was terminated after a disappointing run in the NBA bubble, which left the Pelicans out of the playoff picture.
The 2x NBA All-star coach and former head coach of the Orlando Magic (2007-12) and the Detroit Pistons (2014-18) got his first big break in the league when he was hired as an assistant coach by Pat Riley way back in in 1995. He also briefly served as head coach of the Miami Heat from 03-05 when Riley suddenly resigned as their head coach.
Now, he will be giving up his TV broadcasting gig on Turner Sports to get back to the drawing board for the young Pelicans team led by last year's first-round draft pick Zion Williamson and former Laker Brandon Ingram. The Pelicans management has good faith in Vand Gundy's ability to develop young players and hopes he could help in unlocking Zion's full potential.
After inking his new coaching deal, this Wednesday, Van Gundy talked to Bleacher Report about how excited he is to take the young New Orleans team under his wing (no pun intended) and how he sees a lot of Barkley and Lebron in young Zion.
"But he’s unique. He’s not really those guys. LeBron’s always been a primary ball-handler, point guard, point forward, whatever you want to call him. Barkley was maybe a closer analogy to Zion. What everybody notices are the big body and the great leaping ability, but he’s also got an incredible first step offensively and plays the game very unselfishly. He makes quick decisions, the ball leaves his hand quickly, so other guys can enjoy playing with him. He’s not a ball-stopper.”
Stan Van Gundy, Bleacher Report
It ain't hard to tell that Stan is happy to be back coaching NBA basketball, and from his quote, above it's even more obvious that he is genuinely excited to be coaching a young, dynamic team led by Williamson and Ingram.
Despite their disappointing Bubble run, the Pelicans have a lot of talent to work with and are projected to make the playoffs next season in the hyper-competitive Western Conference. However, to achieve their goal, they will have to make sure they lock up their swingman Ingram and point guard Holiday on long-term deals this season.
If they manage to do all of that and moves some pieces around, Stan Van Gundy should have no problem taking the 2021 New Orleans Pelicans to the playoffs.