Stan Van Gundy has been hired as the coach of the New Orleans Pelicans, he announced in a Twitter post on Wednesday.
Calling the Pelicans talented, Van Gundy said, “I can’t wait to talk to our players and get the process started.”
I’m excited to join a talented New Orleans Pelicans team. 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. I can’t wait to talk to our players and get the process started
— Stan Van Gundy (@realStanVG) October 21, 2020
Van Gundy, 61, had most recently been an analyst for TNT and, separately, established himself as one of the most politically outspoken figures in professional sports through the Twitter account he created in July. On Wednesday, as news broke that he was being hired by the Pelicans, he posted an image on Twitter about voting for the Democratic presidential nominee, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., shortly after a separate post calling for gun control legislation.
This will be Van Gundy’s fourth head coaching job. His last stint was a disappointing one from 2014 to 2018 with the Detroit Pistons, where he was coach and president of basketball operations. Detroit was under .500 for three of the four seasons for a record of 152-176 over all.
Before Detroit, Van Gundy had more successful stops at Orlando and Miami. In Orlando, he was 259-135, including a trip to the N.B.A. finals in 2009, but clashed with the team’s cornerstone, Dwight Howard. Van Gundy also coached in Miami, where he was a longtime assistant and 112-73 as head coach. In 2005-6, his third season as Miami’s coach, Pat Riley, the team president, stepped in to replace him after the team started 11-10. The Heat went on to win the championship.
Van Gundy will now get to coach a team loaded with young talent, particularly 20-year-old Zion Williamson. The franchise, which moved from Charlotte, N.C., to New Orleans for the 2002-3 N.B.A. season, and had its history ceded to the current Hornets, has never made a conference finals. It has made the playoffs only three times in the last 10 years, and won one playoff series in that time, in 2018. Van Gundy will replace Alvin Gentry, who led the Pelicans for the last five years, going 175-225.
Williamson, the No. 1 pick in the draft last year, missed much of the recently completed 2019-20 season because of a right knee injury, dealing a serious blow to the Pelicans’ playoff hopes. But the franchise still has plenty of reasons for optimism: Aside from Williamson, the team will probably have Brandon Ingram, 23, who made his first All-Star team last season and won the Most Improved Player Award. He is a restricted free agent. Jrue Holiday, 30, is one of the better two-way guards in the N.B.A. The Pelicans will also have the 13th overall pick in the draft and, depending on Ingram’s return, may have cap space to sign a contributing free agent.