Golden State Warriors associate head coach Alvin Gentry has been chosen as the new coach of the New Orleans Pelicans, according to league sources.
Stein also reports that Gentry was chosen over fellow finalist Jeff Van Gundy and won’t officially assume the position until conclusion of the NBA Finals.
The 60-year-old interviewed with the Pelicans for a second time on Friday in New Orleans. In addition to Van Gundy, the team was known to be seriously considering ousted Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau and former Los Angeles Clippers coach Vinny del Negro. New Orleans fired Monty Williams earlier this month.
Gentry signed on as Steve Kerr’s lead assistant with the Warriors last summer after one season occupying the same role for Doc Rivers and the Los Angeles Clippers. His most recent head coaching experience came with the Phoenix Suns, whom he led to the Western Conference Finals in 2009-2010 before being fired three years later. Gentry also had full-time stints coaching the Clippers from 2000-2003 and Detroit Pistons from 1997-2000. His regular season coaching record is 335-370, and his teams have advanced to the postseason on two occasions.
Long lauded for his offensive philosophy, Gentry helped Kerr implement a beautiful fast-paced, free-flowing system that ranked second in basketball this season. And though he was eventually fired by Phoenix, his work transitioning the “Seven Seconds Or Less” Suns into a more balanced overall team is consistently championed by league followers.
Earlier this month, Gentry told Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle that he would only leave the Warriors – with whom he signed a three-year deal – for a head coaching job if the circumstances were ideal.
“It would have to be a very good situation,” Gentry said. “What we’ve got here is very special, and I’ve been in the league long enough to know that I wouldn’t want to go into a situation that I didn’t think had the potential to be this way.”
Anthony Davis alone guarantees the Pelicans years of legitimacy, and there’s enough proven talent around him to envision the team emerging as a Western Conference power given subtle roster tweaks.
Gentry’s influence will immediately pay off for New Orleans with a much-improved offense. The stagnant play that sometimes plagued the Pelicans under Williams should be a thing of the past going forward, and it’s fair to say Davis will become an even bigger focal point, too. Unfortunately, it’s the other end of the floor that was New Orleans’ biggest problem last season. While Gentry is hardly Mike D’Antoni in terms of defensive commitment, his coaching strengths clearly lie opposite his new team’s biggest weaknesses.
In that vein, we’ll be paying close attention to whom he hires as the Pelicans’ top defensive assistant. Though Thibodeau assuming the position is a pipe dream, New Orleans will surely chase a coach who’s acumen on that side of the ball is similarly well-regarded.
Gentry won’t cure all of the Pelicans’ ills, but no coach is capable of successfully completing that task. What he’ll certainly do, though, is improve New Orleans immediately and better position the franchise as a potential option for marquee free agents as next summer’s cap boom approaches.