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The Pelicans have made their coaching hire official, announcing in a press release on Thursday that Willie Green will replace Stan Van Gundy as the team’s head coach. The team will formally introduce Green at a press conference next Tuesday.
Reports earlier this month had indicated that Green, an aide to Suns under Monty Williams, was the choice of the Pelicans. As expected, New Orleans waited until after the NBA Finals ended to officially finalize Green’s hiring.
“Willie has established herself as one of the most respected assistant coaches in the NBA. In large part, this is due to a tireless work ethic and authenticity of character,” Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations, David Griffin, said in a statement. “He brings a tremendous amount of basketball knowledge and experience to our team as a coach and former player, along with exceptional leadership skills and an innate ability to connect with players, staff and fans. We couldn’t be happier to welcome Willie and his family. welcome to New Orleans.”
A former NBA gunnery ranger, Green transitioned to the coaching ranks in 2016 and spent three seasons with the Warriors as an assistant before transferring to Phoenix in 2019. He had been on Williams’ staff for the past two years and had reportedly spoken to him. the Wizards and Magic about their head coaching jobs before plunging into the Pelicans’ job.
One of seven head coaches hired since the end of the regular season, Green is one of five who have no previous NBA head coaching experience. Ime Udoka (Celtics), Chauncey Billups (Trail Blazers), Wes Unseld Jr. (Wizards) and Jamahl Mosley (Mavericks) are also head coaches for the first time.
Bucks assistant Charles Lee and Pelicans assistant Fred Vinson were among the other candidates considered by New Orleans during the team’s search for a replacement for Van Gundy, who was fired after one season. Nets assistant Jacque Vaughn was also on or near the team’s roster early in the process, but withdrew from the consideration of staying in Brooklyn.
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