After just one season as New Orleans’s head coach, Stan Van Gundy is out. The Pelicans significantly under-performed last season, especially considering all of the talents that the roster had. With two All-Stars on the team in Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson, the expectation by many was at MINIMUM a playoff appearance.
New Orleans fell short of even reaching the Play-In tournament as their season met its abrupt end at the conclusion of the regular season. Many began to question Van Gundy’s expertise mid-way through the season when the questions surrounding Eric Bledsoe were brought up.
Bledsoe had a historically bad year, yet he continued to see the starting spot at Shooting Guard. With youngsters like Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Kira Lewis Jr. on the bench, fans and analysts alike were questioning the motives of the move. This, however, was not the sole contributor to Van Gundy’s release.
Tension With Players
It was released following the season that Brandon Ingram clashed with his new head coach. It was reported that the star forward did not like his coaching style, and it was evident that many players seemed to be at a loss coming out of timeouts.
JJ Redick wanted out of New Orleans as soon as the hire of Stan Van Gundy was announced, which should have been a red flag. Redick played for Van Gundy previously, so his adamant resistance to playing for him again may have been the first sign that this season would be a flop.
Aside from that, there were instances of players seeming to voice their own frustrations with the coach, be it during a game or in an interview, or even simply by body language. Newly acquired center Steven Adams got into a heated argument with Van Gundy on the sidelines of a game after Van Gundy refused to call a timeout after he was injured. Josh Hart has also stated he wanted “a fresh start” following how this season went, and some are attributing that to the former coach in Van Gundy.
Who will take over?
The number one candidate early on seems to be someone that Pelicans fans already know: Teresa Weatherspoon. Affectionately called “T-Spoon” by those who know her, she has been a key member of the staff since she was brought in. Weatherspoon has earned the respect of the players, and many of the current members of the roster have praised T-Spoon for her passion and love for both the players and the game of basketball itself.
If Weatherspoon were to be named the new head coach, she would make history. Not only would she be the first female head coach, but she would also be the first African American female head coach in the NBA.
The NBA world remains on edge to see how this situation plays out, but none wait more eagerly than Pelicans fans who have a chance at finally making a run next year.