(AP) — Stan Van Gundy announced Wednesday that he is headed to the New Orleans Pelicans, where he’ll take over a promising team that includes No. 1 overall draft pick Zion Williamson and reigning Most Improved Player Brandon Ingram.
Van Gundy agreed to a four-year contract, said a person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the terms had not been revealed publicly.
Van Gundy said on his Twitter account that he was “excited” and thanked Pelicans owner Gayle Benson and others for the opportunity.
“I’m excited to join a talented New Orleans Pelicans team,” Van Gundy wrote. “It will be an honor to work with our players and to work for Mrs. Benson and David Griffin, Trajan Langdon, their staff and the great people of New Orleans. I can’t wait to talk to our players and get the process started.”
In New Orleans, Van Gundy will replace Alvin Gentry, who was let go after the Pelicans missed this season’s playoffs. Part of the problem for the Pelicans this season was that Williamson missed most of the season; he averaged 22.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game on 58% shooting, albeit in only 24 games.
The Pelicans were 30-42 this past season, getting to the NBA’s restart bubble at Walt Disney World but falling well short of the playoffs. They have a promising young core with Williamson, Ingram, Jaxson Hayes and Nickeil Alexander-Walker, plus currently hold four picks in this year’s draft.
Van Gundy spent parts of 12 seasons coaching Miami, Orlando and Detroit, winning 58% of his games and going to the playoffs eight times. He was Dwyane Wade’s first coach in Miami after Pat Riley’s surprise resignation in the fall of 2003, then stepped down from the Heat job 21 games into the 2005-06 season — the year Miami went on to win its first championship.
He won 66% of his games in five seasons in Orlando, taking the Magic to the 2009 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers and going to the playoffs in each of those seasons. And then his four seasons in Detroit were largely a struggle — three losing seasons, the best year in that run being a 44-38 season where the Pistons got swept from the playoffs.
Van Gundy had been working most recently as an NBA analyst for Turner Sports.