Now that the New Orleans Pelicans have handed Monty Williams his pink slip, they’re on the hunt to find the right coach to ferry their young superstar Anthony Davis into greatness. ESPN’s Marc Stein pointed out today via Twitter that Davis has a history with embattled Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau dating back to his time with Team USA.
Thibs, of course, has been planted firmly on the hot seat with Bulls brass for most of the season, in part because of conflicts surrounding minutes restrictions handed down from on high for key players like Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, who have been battling injuries all season. His lineup configurations and minutes management, in general, have been a point of contention during these playoffs, which has seen promising young rookie Nikola Mirotic mostly buried on the bench.
Thanks to all this and more, it’s widely believed that anything less than an NBA Championship — unless you believe Bulls broadcaster, Stacey King — will cost Thibodeau his job this summer. If that’s how the chips fall, he shouldn’t have any problem landing another coaching gig, and the Pelicans would be wise to pencil in his name toward the top of their list.
Another name likely to be added to that list is John Calipari, who of course won an NCAA Championship with Davis during his one and only season at Kentucky, as NBA.com’s Sekou Smith pointed out today. Calipari’s name gets floated around every off-season when it comes to NBA coaching vacancies, and for a brief spell, it was thought the Oklahoma City Thunder might make a play for him after dismissing Scott Brooks. Instead, they landed another big-time college coach in Florida’s Billy Donovan.
For the Pelicans, there’s also the matter of what Davis plans to do regarding his contract. He still has one year remaining but is eligible to sign an extension before the Oct. 31 deadline. He could also choose to sign a qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent in 2017. New Orleans, of course, wants to lock him down for the foreseeable future, and that’s likely to hinge on whether they’re able to find the right coach to bring some stability to the franchise and offer Davis a clear vision for the future.