Van Gundy: I only had interest in Pelicans' coaching opening
Despite a number of teams' head coaching positions becoming available this offseason, Stan Van Gundy says he was only interested in manning the sidelines for the New Orleans Pelicans, according to ESPN's Andrew Lopez.
"I was really enjoying being a TV analyst," Van Gundy said during his introductory press conference Tuesday. "I wanted to coach again, but only if we could find an absolutely great opportunity and New Orleans had it all."
Van Gundy highlighted David Griffin - the Pelicans' executive vice president of basketball operations - and his history of building championship-caliber rosters, the opportunity to coach a young and talented group, and the city of New Orleans as factors that played into his decision.
The new head coach singled out Zion Williamson and reigning Most Improved Player winner Brandon Ingram as two of the players he's excited to work with. Van Gundy - who has a notable history of coaching elite big man, including Dwight Howard - envisions utilizing Williamson's multi-faceted skill set and "unbelievable" playmaking in order to help him develop.
"He's a multi-talented guy. I don't look at him in any way as far as is he a four or a five. I'm not sure those labels matter when it comes to him," Van Gundy said of the 2019 first overall pick. "I think as we study and try to get more definitive and talk to Zion about what he likes, I think it's more what positions we want to put him in and who's best around him."
The 61-year-old also said the team must make "a real commitment" to improving its defense in order to win in the Western Conference. New Orleans' 117.1 points allowed per game was the fourth-highest total in the league last season.
Van Gundy is replacing outgoing head coach Alvin Gentry, who was dismissed after the Pelicans disappointed with a 2-6 record inside the Disney bubble. The former Detroit Pistons bench boss last coached in the NBA during the 2017-18 season.
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