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#pounditThursday, January 20, 2022

Articles tagged: New Orleans Pelicans

David Griffin causing issues for Pelicans?

David Griffin

The New Orleans Pelicans just fired head coach Stan Van Gundy. But that may not necessarily be the solution to all that ails them.

John Hollinger of The Athletic reported this week about the relationships Pelicans executive vice president David Griffin had with both Van Gundy and Van Gundy’s predecessor, Alvin Gentry. Hollinger notes observing an incident during a 2019 Pelicans game. Griffin left his seat during a timeout and whispered something to the Pelicans trainer. The trainer then spoke to Gentry, leading to Gentry making a substitution. Gentry was eventually fired in 2020 after just one season of working with Griffin.

Hollinger also reports that Griffin’s relationship with Van Gundy quickly went south as well. Though Van Gundy was Griffin’s chosen successor, it reportedly became obvious by the end of the year that owner Gayle Benson had to remove one of them.

This comes after ex-Pelicans guard JJ Redick personally criticized Griffin for his handling of Redick’s departure from the team. Franchise cornerstone Zion Williamson is also reportedly unhappy with the Pelicans.

It is true that Griffin is an executive with championship pedigree. He helped put together the Cleveland Cavaliers team that won the 2016 NBA title. But his inability to this point to get along with multiple coaches and players in New Orleans may be a pretty significant issue.

Report: Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram were unhappy with Stan Van Gundy

Stan Van Gundy

The New Orleans Pelicans made the somewhat surprising decision to fire coach Stan Van Gundy after just one season. Though the move seemingly came out of nowhere, it certainly appears that it had been coming for a while.

According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, Van Gundy’s coaching and communication styles failed to connect with Pelicans players and staff. In addition, Van Gundy’s methodical offense and preference for playing veterans over younger players created friction with executive vice president David Griffin and the front office, who felt that Van Gundy was not making the most of the roster that had been constructed for him.

Most notably, Van Gundy seemingly had issues with the franchise’s star players, and his old-school style clashed with the team’s younger core and identity. The report states that the move to fire Van Gundy was partly to please Zion Williamson. Griffin wants Williamson used more as a primary ball-handler, a role Williamson apparently likes but Van Gundy was less sold on. Griffin and the team’s basketball operations also wanted to see the team play at a faster, less methodical pace than Van Gundy preferred.

Forward Brandon Ingram was also reported to have become unhappy with Van Gundy’s leadership.

The abbreviated preseason and lack of practices hurt Van Gundy’s ability to bond with his team, but it wasn’t just on-court issues that got Van Gundy fired. He also apparently failed to develop much of a relationship with Gayle Benson, the team’s principal owner.

It’s clear that Williamson is the player the Pelicans want to build around, and Griffin is actively trying to do things to increase the chances of him staying in New Orleans whenever he becomes an unrestricted free agent, which won’t be until 2024 at the earliest. That mindset led to statements like this one, and apparently it’s played a role in this coaching change as well.

Report: Jason Kidd among candidates for this head coaching job

Jason Kidd

Jason Kidd has been mentioned as a potential candidate for several head coaching jobs this offseason, and we can now add the New Orleans Pelicans to that list.

The Pelicans fired Stan Van Gundy on Wednesday after just one season with the team. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, they are expected to gauge Kidd’s interest in the job. Brooklyn Nets assistants Jacque Vaughn and Ime Udoka could also be asked to interview.

That makes at least three teams that have some level of interest in Kidd, though he already withdrew his name from consideration for one head coaching job. He will reportedly interview for the Orlando Magic job this week.

Kidd, 48, was a Hall of Fame point guard as a player. He went into coaching after his playing career and had stints with the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks as a head coach. He has has spent the last two seasons under Frank Vogel with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Kidd has a 183-190 record as a head coach. His teams have reached the playoffs three times. He was fired by Milwaukee during the 2017-2018 season.

Stan Van Gundy fired as head coach of Pelicans

Stan Van Gundy

Another NBA head coaching vacancy has opened up, as the New Orleans Pelicans have fired Stan Van Gundy after just one season.

Van Gundy and Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin have been engaged in talks for weeks and decided to part ways, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Andrew Lopez.

The Pelicans finished 31-41 this season and missed the play-in tournament by two games. Van Gundy told reporters at the end of the year that COVID protocols created unique challenges in his first season with the team, which ended up being his last.

One of the main reasons Van Gundy was hired was his reputation for having great defensive teams. That did not translate in New Orleans, as the Pelicans ranked in the bottom third of the NBA in many major defensive categories.

The Pelicans obviously feel Van Gundy is not the right person to lead their young core of Zion Williams, Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram. The 61-year-old took two seasons off before he landed the New Orleans job. He had stints coaching the Detroit Pistons, Orlando Magic and Miami Heat before that.

David Griffin fined $50K for comments about Zion Williamson

Zion Williamson

David Griffin was furious with the NBA over the injury Zion Williamson suffered on Friday, and the way the New Orleans Pelicans executive voiced his frustration has cost him a large sum of money.

The NBA announced on Sunday that Griffin has been fined $50,000 for “public criticism of the officiating and comments detrimental to the NBA.”

Williamson suffered a fractured finger on his left hand during the Pelicans’ loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night. The team said he will be sidelined indefinitely, which is going to make it much more difficult for New Orleans to qualify for the play-in tournament.

Griffin was obviously upset by the news, and he decided to lash out at NBA officials for not doing enough to protect Williamson. You can read Griffin’s comments here.

The Pelicans entered Sunday in 11th place in the Western Conference. They’re two games back of the No. 10 seed San Antonio Spurs with just five games remaining in the regular season.

Stan Van Gundy rips Pelicans for blowing late lead

Stan Van Gundy

For the second consecutive game, the New Orleans Pelicans failed to see out a late lead and ended up losing in overtime, this time to the New York Knicks.

With 7.8 seconds left and the Pelicans leading by three, Pelicans guard Eric Bledsoe failed to foul Derrick Rose to prevent a game-tying three. Lonzo Ball then lost Knicks guard Reggie Bullock, who found himself wide open to knock down the game-tying three to force overtime.

After the game, Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy ripped into his players, saying they made mistakes high schoolers wouldn’t have made.

Van Gundy’s rage is understandable. The Pelicans also blew a late lead against the Washington Wizards on Friday, which prompted Van Gundy to turn his frustrations on a different target. With New Orleans fading from the playoff race thanks to these defeats, Van Gundy’s only going to get more frustrated the more this continues.

JJ Redick criticizes David Griffin, accuses Pelicans of dishonesty

JJ Redick

Veteran guard J.J. Redick accused New Orleans Pelicans executive VP David Griffin and the team’s front office of dishonest treatment surrounding Redick’s trade to the Dallas Mavericks.

On Wednesday, Redick spent time on his “Old Man & the Three” podcast discussing the Pelicans’ handling of him this season. He said he had requested a trade in November, in part because of the difficulties of his family in Brooklyn to come visit him during the season. Redick claims Griffin told him to come down for a month and if that did not change Redick’s mind, the Pelicans would find a situation elsewhere that he was happy with.

Redick went on to say that he expected to be bought out once a trade did not happen by February, and was “shocked’ when he was shipped to the Mavericks, saying the team never came up in discussions with New Orleans.

“I don’t think you’re going to get honesty from that front office, objectively speaking,” Redick said, via Andrew Lopez of ESPN. “That’s not an opinion, I just don’t think you’re gonna get that. I don’t think what happened with me is necessarily an isolated incident. I think front offices around the league operate in their best interest. I get that. I understand that.

“Truthfully… I think I was a little naive thinking I was in Year 15 and I attempted to do things right throughout my career. But in terms of this front office, yeah, it’s not something where I would expect certainly the agents who worked on this with me to ever trust that front office again.”

It’s certainly not great for the Pelicans if this reputation sticks. Players pay attention to this sort of thing, and Redick’s bad experience might resonate with others. It could potentially lead to some veterans thinking twice before agreeing to join the Pelicans depending on the circumstances.

Maybe the father of one of Redick’s ex-teammates actually has a point about the New Orleans organization.

Photo: Verse Photography/Flickr via CC-by-SA 2.0

JJ Redick traded to Mavericks from Pelicans

JJ Redick

Lonzo Ball had been mentioned as a potential trade candidate leading up to Thursday’s deadline, but the New Orleans Pelicans decided to move on from a different guard instead.

The Pelicans have traded J.J. Redick to the Dallas Mavericks, according to multiple reports.

Redick averaged 8.7 points per game in 31 games for New Orleans this season, all of which were off the bench. The Mavericks will be the sixth different team that the 36-year-old has played for.

Ball reportedly drew interest from multiple teams ahead of the deadline, but New Orleans has decided to keep its young core together for now. Ball’s numbers have improved this season and he said recently that he is excited about what the Pelicans are building with him, Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram.

The Mavericks are 23-19 and in seventh place in the Western Conference. Redick should provide them with a solid veteran shooter off the bench down the stretch.

Photo: Verse Photography/Flickr via CC-by-SA 2.0

Lonzo Ball feels young Pelicans are building something special

Lonzo Ball

The New Orleans Pelicans have not played particularly well over the last month, but their win over the Utah Jazz on Monday night was a reminder of their potential. Lonzo Ball is hoping to stick around with the team long enough to see that potential fulfilled.

Ball and teammates Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram combined for 75 points as the Pelicans beat the Jazz 129-124. After the game, Ball was asked if he is excited about what the future has in store for the young trio.

“For sure. I love playing with those guys. I’m also really cool with them off the floor as well,” Ball said, via ESPN’s Andrew Lopez. “We’re all young. I think we can do some good things especially in the future coming up.”

Ball is a great defender, which is why many felt he would be a good fit with Pelicans head coach Stan Van Gundy. His offense has come around recently as well, as he has scored at last 16 points in six of the Pelicans’ last seven games. Ball averaged 16.5 points per game for the month of February.

There have been some intriguing trade possibilities mentioned for Ball, but he may have played his way out of that discussion. New Orleans now seems more likely to trade veteran guards JJ Redick and Eric Bledsoe. It would make sense for the team to try building around Ball, Williamson and Ingram given the way they are starting to click.

Pelicans also looking to trade Eric Bledsoe?

Eric Bledsoe

Eric Bledsoe’s time with the New Orleans Pelicans may end up being brief.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN said on “The Hoop Collective” this week that the Pelicans have shopped Bledsoe. Windhorst also confirmed earlier reports that the team is doing the same with Lonzo Ball and JJ Redick.

The interest in Ball has primarily been coming from within the West. Redick though is mainly drawing interest from the East.

Meanwhile, Bledsoe, a multi-time All-Defensive selection, was just acquired by New Orleans over the summer in the Jrue Holiday trade with Milwaukee. But he has struggled to start his Pelicans career. Bledsoe is averaging 13.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game this season. Those are the worst numbers that the 31-year-old has ever posted as a full-time starter.

Second-year guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker has carved out a consistent role for himself in New Orleans’ rotation this season. Rookie Kira Lewis Jr. is also knocking on the door of increased playing time. That is probably why the Pelicans sound determined to unclutter their backcourt a bit via trade.

H/T HoopsHype