New Orleans Pelicans fire Stan Van Gundy after 1 season

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Stan Van Gundy coaches rising New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson for one season. (Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Stan Van Gundy coaches rising New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson for one season. (Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

The New Orleans Pelicans relieved head coach Stan Van Gundy of his duties after one season, the team confirmed Wednesday.  

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Andrew Lopez first reported the news of New Orleans' move. The Pelicans finished 31-41 during the regular season, tied for 11th place in the Western Conference and outside the play-in tournament.

After two seasons out of the NBA and in an ESPN broadcasting booth, Van Gundy was brought in with a mandate to develop a young roster featuring Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball into a playoff team. The result was marginal improvement from a roster that finished 30-42 under Alvin Gentry in 2019-20.

Pelicans assistant Teresa Weatherspoon is among the candidates to replace Van Gundy, The New York Times' Marc Stein reported. New Orleans executive David Griffin is also expected to revisit a cast of candidates from last year, including Brooklyn Nets assistants Jacque Vaughn and Ime Udoka, Milwaukee Bucks assistant Charles Lee and Los Angeles Lakers assistant Jason Kidd, according to Wojnarowski.

The Pelicans ranked 23rd in defensive rating and 25th in 3-point attempts a game, raising questions about Van Gundy's efficacy in the modern era, even if his 2008-09 Orlando Magic were a prototype for it. After posting a winning record in eight seasons as a head coach with the Magic and Miami Heat from 2003-12, Van Gundy logged one winning season in five years with the Pelicans and Detroit Pistons since 2014-15.

The Pelicans join the Boston Celtics, Indiana Pacers, Orlando Magic, Portland Trail Blazers and Washington Wizards as teams in search of a head coach in the 2021 offseason. The list of qualified candidates is long.

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