Image retrieved from USAT SI – CBS Sports.com
First reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Andrew Lopez, the New Orleans Pelicans are close to reaching a deal with Phoenix Suns’ assistant coach Willie Green. The terms in the deal are still unknown to the general public. Green played for twelve seasons in the NBA. The former player was hired by the Suns as an assistant coach on June 26, 2019. Moreover, on June 16, 2021, the Pelicans fired head coach Stan Van Gundy, who had agreed to a 4-year contract with the organization on Oct. 21, 2020. The team has to pay Coach Gundy about $15 million, considering he was fired after his short first year with New Orleans.
As for Green, he was first hired by the Golden State Warriors’ coaching staff on August 9, 2016. In the 2016-17 NBA season, the Warriors finished the regular season with a record of 67-15 (817). Golden State went on to defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers four games to two in the NBA Finals, helping Green to win his first ring. Then, after the Warriors concluded the 2017-18 season with a 58-24 (.707) overall record, they repeated as champions against Cleveland, sweeping LeBron James, Coach Tyronn Lue, and the rest of the underdog Cavaliers.
Phoenix Suns assistant Willie Green has emerged as the strong frontrunner and the New Orleans Pelicans’ choice to become the franchise’s next head coach, sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 12, 2021
As a player, Green was drafted out of the University of Detroit Mercy in the 2003 NBA Draft. The university retired his No. 30 Titans’ jersey on Jan. 25, 2020. He was selected 41st overall in the second round. The 39-year-old athlete played for the Philadelphia 76ers, New Orleans Hornets, Atlanta Hawks, Los Angeles Clippers, and the Orlando Magic. In his 12-year playing career, he appeared in 731 games, averaging 8.3 points, 1.8 total rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game. Green last played for the Orlando Magic in the 2014-15 season.
Pelicans have 10th pick in the 2021 NBA Draft
Furthermore, the 2020-21 New Orleans Pelicans ended their season with a record of 31-41 (.431). They finished fourth in the Southwest division and 11th in the Western Conference. After his firing, Coach Van Gundy’s W-L record in the regular season is now 554-425 (.566). The Pelicans have not made the playoffs since the 2017-18 season, when the team finished 48-34 (.585), sweeping the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round of the playoffs. However, they proceeded to lose four games to one in the conference semifinals against the Warriors.
In this upcoming 2021 NBA Draft, the Pelicans have the 10th overall pick. If hired by the Pelicans, Coach Green will certainly have young talent to work with, such as Zion Williamson, Lonzo Ball, and Brandon Ingram. Players jump from team to team in an instant in this league, so Trajan Langdon, the club’s general manager, will also have his hands full with keeping these key players together. It might all come down to how well New Orleans will manage this upcoming draft.