New Orleans Pelicans: 3 qualities to look for in the next head coach

Assistant coach Fred Vinson and Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
Assistant coach Fred Vinson and Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /

The New Orleans Pelicans’ head coaching job should be one of the most coveted in the NBA this offseason. The Pels have a generational superstar in Zion Williamson and another under-25 All-Star in Brandon Ingram to go along with some talented youth and a ton of draft assets.

There will be coaches lined up to replace Stan Van Gundy, but this is a hire the Pelicans have to get right.

Not only is David Griffin under pressure to save his own job, but the Pelicans are trying to ensure that Zion Williamson doesn’t pull an Anthony Davis and start looking for other teams to join.

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Knowing how important this decision is, the Pelicans need to look for specific qualities that will suit this particular group of players.

New Orleans Pelicans: The Pelicans need a young head coach

I think the Pelicans should look for a coach who is on the younger side for couple of reasons. Firstly, a young person is more likely to  be able to relate and communicate effectively with a young group of players.

Part of Van Gundy’s problem is that his style did not resonate with a group of young guys, who never really bought into what he was selling.

A young coach can also bring some much-needed stability to a team that has long lacked it. If they could get a coach that can evolve and grow with the franchise, they can finally create some continuity and sustained success.

You can argue the results, but the Celtics did this with Brad Stevens. They identified a young and talented coach who could be with them for the long term. The Pelicans should try to do the same with a guy like Charles Lee.

The New Orleans Pelicans need a communicator, not a pushover

While communication and relationships are important, the Pelicans need to find someone who can deliver those things without being a pushover.

This is a young team and they need someone who can build those relationships and still maintain some sort of control over the team. A young person who can come in and clearly convey their plan and expectations is what the Pelicans need, not someone who comes in with threats about minutes but someone who still makes the players earn them.

This was one of the problems with Stan Van Gundy, who would rather play Eric Bledsoe in some ill-fated attempt to teach his younger players a lesson.

Be fair, play the best guys and make your intentions clear.

Teresa Weatherspoon and Fred Vinson are names that have come up, largely because they know how to get the player’s ear without losing them in the process.

The Pelicans need a coach who embraces the culture of New Orleans

I never felt like the fans really got behind Stan Van Gundy, mostly because the Pelicans didn’t win but also because he was never really able to endear himself to the culture.

I’m not saying the next coach needs to be from NOLA, but it would be nice if he or she had some amount of knowledge or connection to the city and its very unique cultural landscape.

New Orleans is not like any other place on earth, and sports wise the fans are passionate but aren’t going to show up no matter what. They need to be won over, as the Saints were able to do, as New Orleans just has too much other stuff going on. This isn’t the Thunder, where the fans have nothing better to do, so it would be nice to see a coach who embraces that and knows that part of his or her job is to win over the fans and to embrace the culture of the city.

This is the biggest decision of David Griffin’s tenure in New Orleans and the one that is going to define his legacy one way or another. Get it right and the Pelicans are in a position to do amazing things, but get it wrong and we may be looking at Anthony Davis 2.0 and hoping for more luck in the lottery.

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