The New Orleans Pelicans hired Stan Van Gundy last year in hopes that the veteran head coach would be able to help develop its young franchise stars.
In some ways, the experiment worked.
Despite Charles Oakley’s controversial take on him, Zion Williamson was an absolute force in 2020-21.
Similarly, although it’s a virtual lock that Lonzo Ball will be playing for a new team next season, he is coming off the best year of his career.
So in that regard, Van Gundy was successful.
That being said, there were certain things he wasn’t particularly good at. Namely – endearing himself to his roster.
“Various sources have said there was tension between Van Gundy and his players during the season,” wrote Scott Kushner of NOLA.com.
And he isn’t alone in reporting this.
“In New Orleans, the players are not vibing with the coach,” Sam Amick of The Athletic said on KHTK radio this past week.
“There’s issues there.”
That’s one way to get over a loss. https://t.co/17jpFpu2Ej
— Game 7 (@game7__) May 23, 2021
New Orleans went 31-41 during the 2020-21 campaign, a one-win improvement over their previous year. Obviously that’s not the sort of improvement that you look for when you’re determining whether a coach’s inability to connect with his players is justified by the on-court results.
At the moment, all sides seem to be maintaining that Van Gundy will not be fired. That said – there is a reason multiple outlets start reporting on situations like this at the same time.
Van Gundy’s status with the Pelicans is not secure.
And given that he just got there – this isn’t a great sign for his future with the organization.
Charles Kruger has been credentialed to cover two Super Bowls, four NBA Finals, and one World Series. A 20-year veteran in the sports world, he has sources spanning the NBA, MLB, NFL, UFC and NASCAR. Currently residing in Los Angeles, Calif., he is Game 7’s go-to source for rumors surrounding the Lakers, Clippers and Dodgers.