Stan Van Gundy is headed to the New Orleans Pelicans, where he'll take over a promising team that includes 2019 No. 1 overall draft pick Zion Williamson and reigning Most Improved Player Brandon Ingram.
Van Gundy agreed to a four-year contract, said a person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the terms had not been revealed publicly.
The coach said on his Twitter account Wednesday that he was “excited to join a talented New Orleans Pelicans team" and thanked team owner Gayle Benson and others for the opportunity.
“It will be an honor to work with our players and to work for Mrs. Benson and David Griffin, Trajan Langdon, their staff and the great people of New Orleans," Van Gundy wrote. "I can’t wait to talk to our players and get the process started."
Among the players he'll talk to is veteran locker-room leader JJ Redick, who spent his second through sixth NBA seasons playing for Van Gundy in Orlando. Redick has readily credited Van Gundy for helping him develop into a reliable double-digit scorer.
“In terms of intangibles and characteristics I think any NBA player should have, I think he taught me those things and he reinforced those things in me — professionalism, accountability ... not taking any nights off, all that stuff, because he lives that,” Redick said of Van Gundy in 2016, when he played for the Los Angeles Clippers and Van Gundy was coaching Detroit. “I see how hard he works, how much he invests in his craft, and so as a player, playing for him, you really have no choice but to do the same.”
In New Orleans, Van Gundy will replace Alvin Gentry, who was let go after the Pelicans missed this season’s playoffs. Part of the problem for the Pelicans this season was that Williamson missed most of the season; he averaged 22.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game on 58% shooting, albeit in only 24 games.
The Pelicans were 30-42 this past season, getting to the NBA's restart bubble at Walt Disney World but falling well short of the playoffs. They have a promising young core with Williamson, Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Jaxson Hayes and Nickeil Alexander-Walker, plus currently hold four picks in this year’s draft.