After only one season with the New Orleans Pelicans, Stan Van Gundy and the team decided to part ways. Following a tumultuous stint at the Smoothie King Center, the head coach and the front office had some differences, leading to his departure.
Van Gundy recently opened up on his time with the Pels, explaining what went wrong for him and the team. SVG said he wasn't on the same page as the front office, clarifying that neither Zion Williamson nor Brandon Ingram had anything to do with his firing.
Via Andrew Lopez of ESPN:
"I hate when it gets put on players that players are getting coaches fired and things like that. I think that makes players look bad and I don't think that's fair," Van Gundy said on the "Stupodity" podcast. "Players certainly have the right to express their opinion to people and things like that but front offices and owners make decisions and they are the ones who make decisions to fire people. That should never be placed on players.
"I know this, regardless of what happened in that regard, Zion's no coach killer. He's a guy who is gonna help you win a lot of games. He plays the game the right way. One of the things I'll miss is the opportunity to continue to coach him. He's so unique in the way that he plays the game and the things that he can do, it really gets your mind spinning as a coach and you have a lot of possibilities in what you can do with him. That was fun to explore. I'm happy with what we did with Zion. I think we helped him. How anyone else felt about that would be up to them."
The Pelicans have unsuccessfully tried to reach the playoffs without Anthony Davis and fans want to see Williamson playing on the big stage. This will be Zion's third season in the league, and he hopes to reach the next level with a new head coach.
The forward is still considered a future superstar in the league, and the Pelicans must build the roster around him. This offseason will be crucial for their aspirations; it's time for Zion to take over, but the front office must make the right moves to unlock his potential.