It was a slow dance in a burning room, but the New Orleans Pelicans have finally fired Alvin Gentry from his head coaching position. His five-year stint with the Pelicans comes to an end, leading the team to only one playoff appearance. It’s still a what-if had Zion Williamson remained healthy the whole year, but their abysmal showing in the bubble arguably led to the Gentry ouster.
With a fresh start to their brand new campaign next season, the pressure is now on the Pelicans front office to hire the right coach. They have the roster pieces to be good on paper, but the right coach should be able to fit all those pieces together and steer the franchise to greater heights.
Jackson may be more known as the man that Steve Kerr replaced for the Golden State Warriors coaching job, but one can’t forget that he is an excellent player coach with tons of potential. In his last season with the Warriors, Jackson led the team to a stellar 51-31 record while also helping Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson establish themselves as two-way stars.
That same year, the Warriors also ranked 4th in defensive rating, 7th in assists per game, and 5th in rebounds per contest. Jackson knows how to make his players exert effort on the defensive end. That type of leader is exactly what the Pelicans need as they have a bevy of talented defensive players like Lonzo Ball, Jrue Holiday, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, and even Zion.
It’s still mind-boggling as to why the Brooklyn Nets fired Atkinson, but at least a young squad brimming with potential like the Pelicans can now nab his services. He steered an inexperienced Nets team to a playoff appearance last season, despite the team only having one star-caliber player in D’Angelo Russell. As a matter of fact, Russell wasn’t even viewed upon as a star prior to last season. But Atkinson was able to tame Russell’s antics, and push him to his first All-Star appearance.
Ball, Ingram, Hart, and Williamson are all under 25 years of age, and they need the same kind of magic that Atkinson used in bringing up Russell. Player development is a priority for the Pelicans moving forward, and there is no doubt that Atkinson is already a brilliant man for that job.
If the Pelicans front office really want to go for the home run, then going after Lue is the way to go. With a championship and three Finals appearances already under his belt, Lue is the best choice for New Orleans. Even the great LeBron James is a witness to Lue’s masterful coaching as the four-time NBA MVP always says that the 43-year old tactician is one of the best in in-game adjustments, as well as getting the most out of his players.
Lue, who has a stellar record of 128 wins against 83 defeats in his head coaching career, is a long-time understudy of Doc Rivers. Lue served as an assistant coach for Rivers with the Boston Celtics, and now the two basketball strategists are leading the Los Angeles Clippers to a franchise-best year.