Stan Van Gundy Doesn’t Blame Zion Williamson For Firing

Former New Orleans Pelicans head coach, Stan Van Gundy commented publicly for the first time since being fired by the organization. On the “Stupodity” podcast, he went on record saying he doesn’t believe that any players, particularly Zion Williamson or Brandon Ingram contributed to his surprising departure.

The Zion subject came up when he was questioned about reports that Williamson’s family was unhappy with his coaching and if it played a factor in his exit. The former coach answered the question from his view.

“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.”

Instead Van Gundy focused on the philosophical differences between him and David Griffin as the issue, even down to the “mutual split” announced to the media.

Pelicans Executive Vice President of basketball operations David Griffin shared with reporters the “philosophical differences” between the team and their coach. Van Gundy on the other hand, said that offseason meetings between himself and Griffin made it clear that the two were not on the same page.

“We just looked at coaching totally different,” Van Gundy said, via ESPN. “That became probably a little bit during the season but certainly after the season. We were on two totally different pages. Who’s right and who’s wrong is up to anybody’s individual perspective, but we certainly did not see things the same way.”

Despite the team’s improvement on defense after the All-Star break, injuries to Zion and others affected the offense and doomed the Pelicans play-in tournament chances finishing with a 31-41 record.