Fans were scratching their heads when the New Orleans Pelicans fired Head Coach Monty Williams. Williams, a former NBA player for teams such as the Knicks and the Spurs, took the Pelicans to the playoffs in two of his five seasons at the helm, one of those coming when the team was known as the Hornets in the 2010-2011 season.
This past season was considered one of his best as the team made the playoffs despite injuries to key players Jrue Holiday and Ryan Anderson. But then he was fired, and many complained, some claiming racism. But today those latter claims were proved unfounded, as the team confirmed the hiring of Alvin Gentry.
Gentry, the Golden State Warriors assistant and former Suns head coach, has been in an NBA coaching capacity since 1989, and this marks his second stint as a head coach in the League. He now becomes the sixth head coach in franchise history. Per the team's press release:
“We are excited to announce that Alvin Gentry is the new head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans. We warmly welcome Alvin and his family to the Pelicans organization,” said Demps. “After assessing our team, along with the core values of the Pelicans, we created a list of characteristics and qualities we wanted in our head coach. We conducted an extensive coaching search that identified Alvin Gentry as the right person to lead our team.”
Demps continued, “Alvin is a well-respected coach that brings many years of experience, a wealth of knowledge, creativity and leadership. Alvin and I have a shared vision and we look forward to working together in achieving sustained success for Pelican fans and the New Orleans community.”
“We are thrilled to have Alvin join our organization,” stated Pelicans Owner Tom Benson. “He has proven himself as a winner and is in the midst of helping the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. We look forward to having him lead our team.”
Gentry, who currently serves as the associate head coach for the Golden State Warriors, will begin his duties with the Pelicans immediately following the 2015 NBA Finals.
“I’m truly honored for the opportunity to lead the Pelicans as their head coach and am anxious to get started,” said Gentry. “However, my responsibilities with the Pelicans will begin immediately after the NBA Finals are completed. Until then, my complete focus for the next two-plus weeks will be with the Warriors and the NBA Finals. We’ve had an incredible season under Steve Kerr’s leadership in the Bay Area, but still have a lot of work to do as we prepare for the Cavaliers and a tough series.”
Gentry has previously served as the head coach of the Miami HEAT (1994-95), Detroit Pistons (1997-00), Los Angeles Clippers (2000-03) and Phoenix Suns (2008-13). In 705 regular season games, Gentry has amassed a career record of 335-370 (.475). During the 2009-10 season, Gentry led the Suns to a 56-28 record while advancing to the Western Conference Finals. That season, the Suns led the league in scoring at 110.2 points per game while ranking fourth in pace of play (95.3), and was the only team in the NBA to connect on over 40-percent of their three-point field goal attempts (.412). In 21 career postseason games as a head coach, Gentry has a record of 12-9 (.571).
Gentry began his coaching career after a four-year collegiate career at Appalachian State, serving as an assistant coach at Baylor University (1980-81), the University of Colorado (1981-86), and the University of Kansas (1986-89) before moving up to the NBA ranks as an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs. This will mark Gentry’s second stint in the Crescent City, having served as an assistant coach during the 2003-04 season. In addition to his current role with the Warriors, the Shelby, North Carolina, native also served as the associate head coach of the Clippers during the 2013-14 season.
This is an interesting choice for the team, as it pairs them with a coach that has experience as a player, coach and a leader that understands how to utilize an athletic team in need of an up-tempo offense. Gentry will inherit an emerging all-star in Anthony Davis, the aforementioned Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans, a player whose potential has yet to be fully realized or maximized.
It also gives him a playoff ready team, one that gave his current Golden State Warriors a bit of a run in the first round of this year's NBA Playoffs.