Willie Green, assistant to the Phoenix Suns, emerged as the strongest candidate and choice to be the next coach of the New Orleans Pelicans, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Green, a 12-year NBA veteran, has worked as an assistant with the Suns the past two seasons and spent the previous three on the Golden State Warriors coaching staff. He also has previous experience in New Orleans, where he played one season (2010-11), when the franchise still bore the Hornets name.
As a player, Green made the playoffs in seven of his 12 seasons, including his season in New Orleans, which is one of only seven trips to the postseason in franchise history.
That season, Green played for a team led by Monty Williams and led by center Chris Paul. Now, Green is the leading candidate to be removed from a Suns team led by Williams and Paul.
Green would replace Stan Van Gundy, who left the Pelicans after just one season.
The Pelicans finished with a 31-41 record in the 2020-21 campaign, a disappointing result after starting the schedule with Playoff aspirations. In the end, New Orleans didn’t even make the Western Conference playoff.
The immediate future looks bright in New Orleans with two young All-Stars in Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram. The Pelicans have the 10th overall pick in the upcoming draft, but ESPN’s Jonathan Givony noted in his most recent mock draft that “the No. 10 pick is considered to be one of the most available in any recent lottery, simply because of the expeditious line. of team time ”.
New Orleans also has its fair share of future picks from the trades that sent Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers and Jrue Holiday to the Milwaukee Bucks.
One of the reasons Green emerged as a coach candidate is his ability to connect with players as a locker room presence because of his experience as a coach and on the bench since becoming an assistant.
At 39 years of age, Green would become the third-youngest coach in the NBA behind Mark Daigneault (35) of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Taylor Jenkins (36) of the Memphis Grizzlies.