Image: Katie Haugland/Wikimedia Commons
Image: Katie Haugland/Wikimedia Commons

NBA: What next for the New Orleans Pelicans?

The New Orleans Pelicans announced their decision to dismiss head coach Alvin Gentry on 15 August. As we approach two months since the firing, the question still remains: who will become the Pelicans’ new head coach?

Gentry was sacked in part due to an underwhelming performance during the NBA restart in Orlando. His side, who were in playoff contention going into the ‘bubble’, won just two of their eight seeding games, finishing the season with a 30-42 record. This was enough for only thirteenth place in the Western Conference, four games back from the eighth seed Portland Trail Blazers.

New Orleans are a young and exciting side. They are led by the number one pick from the 2019 Draft, Zion Williamson. His potential knows no bounds, and he is expected to become the next face of the league as he develops into a superstar. He is joined by all-star Brandon Ingram, who is quickly becoming one of the NBA’s best talents.

It is the team’s raw talent that makes the Pelicans job such an attractive one.

So, who is actually in the running? One name that has been mentioned is Tyronn Lue. He has an excellent coaching record, having coached the Cleveland Cavaliers to a famous Championship win in 2016, before taking his side to the NBA Finals again in 2017 and 2018.

It is thought that vacancy in Los Angeles will be most appealing to Lue

Lue and Pelicans’ executive vice president David Griffin have worked together successfully before, something that is thought to attract Lue. Following Doc Rivers’ dismissal as LA Clippers head coach, it is thought that vacancy in Los Angeles will be most appealing to Lue.  The former Cavaliers head coach spent the 2020 season as an assistant to Rivers.

Former Brooklyn Nets head coach, Kenny Atkinson, has also been linked with the Pelicans job. He has experience of developing young players and creating a playoff team that can compete with some of the best outfits in the league. Atkinson could bring exactly the vision that the Pelicans are aiming to turn into reality.

Jason Kidd, who is now an assistant at the LA Lakers, would be another option. A more experienced coach would be Mike D’Antoni, who’s slightly disappointing time with the Houston Rockets has come to an end. However, D’Antoni looks set to land another vacant head coaching role in Philadelphia. David Vanterpool and Jerry Stackhouse have also been linked.

For me, Kenny Atkinson seems the logically choice. A coach with NBA head coaching experience. A leader who took a young, rather poor, Nets team and developed them into a playoff side. He developed raw talent, like Spencer Dinwiddie, and helped them to become consistent performers at the highest level. He is exactly what New Orleans want and need.

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