While many Pelicans fan felt tortured throughout the hiring process, the introduction of Stan Van Gundy marks a new chapter in New Orleans with clear skies all around.
Van Gundy's teams have won more than 500 games (523-384), they've made the playoffs eight times, the conference finals three times, and the NBA finals once. He's the winning coach that nobody courted.
"I was not in a situation where I would have taken any job," Van Gundy said Tuesday during his introductory press conference. "There was only one job I even tried to get involved with, that was this job, and it was all the things we talked about before, and I’m really excited to coach this group.”
After a long coaching search, Pelicans fans were beginning to jab the organization for letting bigger and flashier names sign elsewhere. Would New Orleans settle for the coach nobody wanted? It kind of did. But that doesn't make it bad. New Orleans patiently got a winning coach with a history of developing players. Van Gundy was courted by young stars and good leadership. One of those leaders, JJ Redick, who played for Stan in Orlando, sold Van Gundy on coming to New Orleans.
"I have a great deal of respect for him, and one of the things that he said to me, and probably the most important thing, is that, ‘We have great people on this team, these are all great people, there’s not one bad guy. You’re going to love coaching this team, Stan,’ and so that was meaningful to me because I know when JJ talks about someone being a great person, a great teammate, I know what his standards are, and they’re very high, so that was very meaningful to me," said Van Gundy.
SVG spoke a lot about defense Tuesday, but ultimately he will be judged by his ability to milk the talent out of Zion Williamson.
“I think you have a vision for what he is, which is a multi-talented guy. He is an unbelievable playmaker for a guy at his size. He’s a guy that can take the ball of the glass and lead the break and make plays. He can make passes off of the dribble, he can finish over bigger people inside, he’s a multi-talented guy. I don’t look at him in any way if he’s a four (power forward) or a five (center), I’m not sure those labels matter when it comes to him," said Van Gundy. "I think we’ll get to a starting point of that at the start of the season, and my guess is, as time goes on, I’m going to find out that he can do even more than I think he can do, and things will evolve from there.”
Van Gundy has a history with young superstars, developing players like Lamar Odom in Miami and Dwight Howard in Orlando.
He last coached in 2018 with the Detroit Pistons.
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