Pelicans, Stan Van Gundy Mutually Agree to Part Ways

Just eight months after being hired to lead a rebuild headlined by the highly-touted Zion Williamson, Stan Van Gundy and the New Orleans Pelicans have mutually agreed to part ways, the team announced this morning.

Executive VP of Basketball Operations David Griffin and Van Gundy have reportedly been engaged in talks about the future of both parties for weeks.

Despite a reputation as a defensive specialist, the Pelicans failed to mimic the defensive success of Van Gundy’s past teams, finishing the season ranked 23rd in defensive rating (113.3) and 25th in opponent 3-point percentage (38.0).

After being named the seventh head coach in franchise history in Oct. 2020, Van Gundy led a promising Pelicans team to a 31-41 record and failed to make the playoffs, despite a play-in tournament that gave four additional teams the chance to extend their season into the summer. That being said, injuries to Lonzo Ball, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Josh Hart and Zion also did their part to derail the team’s postseason hopes.

The revolving door of coaches over the last few seasons also means massive change for Williamson, a perennial All-Star, as New Orleans’ new coaching hire will be his third coach in as many seasons.

While Van Gundy moves away from the organization, the Pelicans have opened the door on a historic opportunity for assistant coach, Teresea Weatherspoon, one of the top candidates to replace Van Gundy (per Marc Stein of the New York Times).

The organization is also expected to reexamine the list of candidates they had less than a year ago, including assistants Jacque Vaughn, Ime Udoka (Brooklyn Nets), Charles Lee (Milwaukee Bucks) and Jason Kidd (Los Angeles Lakers), per Wojnarowski.