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Van Gundy: 'Zion's no coach killer,' had nothing to do with departure

Jonathan Bachman / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Stan Van Gundy dismissed the notion that any New Orleans Pelicans player was directly responsible for his exit last month after just one season as head coach, including franchise star Zion Williamson.

"Front offices and owners make decisions and they're the ones that decide to fire people, and that shouldn't ever, ever, ever be placed on players," Van Gundy told host Stugotz recently on the "STUpodity" podcast. "I know this, regardless of what happened in that regard, Zion's no coach killer.

"He's a guy who is gonna help you win a lot of games. He plays the game the right way ... I'm happy with what we did with Zion. I think we helped him. How anyone else felt about that would be up to them."

In the days following his departure, it was reported Williamson and some family members had been unhappy with both the Pelicans organization and Van Gundy. The longtime head coach was apparently considered "too rigid and demanding" by Williamson's family.

However, Van Gundy says he was never made aware of those supposed frustrations.

"If they were unhappy, I didn't hear about it. Zion was unhappy with us not winning more games," he said. "But Zion never expressed to me any of that. That doesn't mean he wasn't unhappy. I don't know. It's possible they were unhappy with me and that was part of what led to the change."

Van Gundy, 61, was named Pelicans head coach in October, replacing Alvin Gentry. However, he managed just a 31-41 record with New Orleans, resulting in the team missing the postseason for a third straight season.

The Pelicans are reportedly considering several candidates for their coaching vacancy, including Milwaukee Bucks assistant Charles Lee and incumbent assistants Teresa Weatherspoon and Fred Vinson.

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