Stan Van Gundy is out as coach of the New Orleans Pelicans after just one season with the franchise, sources told ESPN Wednesday morning.
Van Gundy and Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin were in talks for weeks, according to sources.
New Orleans finished with a disappointing 31-41 last season and failed to make the play-in tournament in the Western Conference.
During exit interviews on May 17, Van Gundy told reporters that it was a difficult year due to how the season played out because of the league’s COVID protocols.
“It was a difficult year personally because when I took the job, we didn’t know when training camp was going to start or anything like that,” Van Gundy said. “I hadn’t really given much thought to the condensed training ground, the condensed season, the COVID protocols. That was very, very difficult from a personal point of view. For me, going to Detroit and having my kids around and not being able to see them. That kind of thing. Having to limit the possibility of people coming to visit us and things like that. On a personal level it was difficult.
“But at the basketball level, I thought this was a great basketball situation and it is better than I thought. I was not happy with the results. I was not happy with myself in some things in basketball. But in terms of working in All in all, it’s even better than I expected and hoped it would be good. “
Van Gundy and the Pelicans had a bumpy season that culminated in another missed trip to the playoffs for New Orleans. New Orleans was hopeful that Van Gundy could establish a defensive presence, but the results were not positive. The Pelicans finished 23rd in defensive rating (113.3) and 25th in opponent’s 3-point percentage (38.0).
The Pelicans improved from 29th in defensive rating (116.3) before the All-Star break to seventh (110.4) afterward, but the team’s offensive rating was the same. They were sixth (115.6) before the break and 21 after (110.4).
New Orleans lacked consistency throughout the year. When things finally seemed to be going in the right direction, injuries to Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Zion Williamson derailed New Orleans once again. New Orleans also struggled in close games this season. They lost 14 games, the league’s most, when they had a double-digit lead, and went 3-10 in games decided by three points or less.
New Orleans got off to a 4-2 start, but things quickly went downhill. The Pelicans lost eight of their next nine games and never returned to .500 for the remainder of the season. In the end, the Pelicans finished 31-41, just a game improvement over their 30-42 record in the shortened 2019-20 season, after which the team fired coach Alvin Gentry.
New Orleans was Van Gundy’s fourth stop as NBA head coach and the first since he was gone for two seasons. Van Gundy was successful in his first two stops in Miami (.605 winning percentage) and Orlando (.657). He even guided the Magic to an Eastern Conference final.
However, Van Gundy had only one winning season in four years with the Detroit Pistons from 2014-18. Van Gundy, 61, has a career record of 554-425 (.566).