Two people with knowledge of the situation say Stan Van Gundy has agreed to become the next coach of the New Orleans Pelicans, where he’ll get the chance to work with No. 1 overall draft pick Zion Williamson.
Van Gundy agreed to a four-year contract, according to one of the people who spoke Wednesday to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the hiring had not been announced.
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. They have a promising young core with Williamson, Most Improved Player Brandon Ingram, Jaxson Hayes and Nickeil Alexander-Walker, plus currently hold four picks in this year’s draft.
Van Gundy spent parts of 12 seasons coaching Miami, Orlando and Detroit, winning 58% of his games and going to the playoffs eight times. He was Dwyane Wade’s first coach in Miami, then stepped down from the Heat job 21 games into the 2005-06 season — the year Miami went on to win its first championship.
He won 66% of his games in five seasons in Orlando, taking the Magic to the 2009 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers and going to the playoffs in each of those seasons. And then his four seasons in Detroit were largely a struggle — three losing seasons, the best year in that run being a 44-38 season where the Pistons got swept from the playoffs.
Van Gundy has been working most recently as an NBA analyst for Turner Sports.