The New Orleans Pelicans are going to see a lot of familiar faces in the NBA Finals this season after the Phoenix Suns beat the Clippers behind head coach Monty Williams.
There are eight different former Pelicans coaches, players or front office personnel with connections to the Phoenix Suns including superstar Chris Paul and head coach Monty Williams:
Not all of these guys were huge parts of the New Orleans Pelicans but it’s great to see so many former Pels getting enjoying some much-deserved success.
But it is also painful to see these same guys who failed in New Orleans figure it out with another team, and illustrates some of the struggles the Pelicans have had building a consistent winner in the Big Easy.
New Orleans Pelicans: The Pels failed to build a team around Chris Paul
After drafting Chris Paul, his time in New Orleans was more or less a playbook in how to lose a star. The city was still affected by Katrina and didn’t even get to enjoy Paul’s first two seasons up close, as they were mostly played in Oklahoma City.
Paul did become a superstar for the Hornets/Pelicans but they were never able to get the right team around him, though he was still able to take them to the playoffs and had an unbelievable series against the Lakers.
New Orleans thought that Paul was going to bounce in free agency, so ended up trading him to the Clippers in what would become an extremely lopsided deal, essentially wasting an all-time great point guard.
Did the New Orleans Pelicans give up on Monty Williams too soon?
At one point it looked like Monty Williams was going to be the head coach for a long time in New Orleans. He was the youngest coach in the league when he was hired and took the team to the playoffs in his first season.
He was given an extension and it looked as though New Orleans had found their guy. But things mostly went downhill from there, as Williams went just 2-8 in the playoffs and had a losing record overall after five seasons, eventually leading to his dismissal.
A lot of people at the time thought things weren’t really his fault and that he was made the scapegoat for poor roster construction, something that has always seemed to plague the New Orleans Pelicans.
It’s definitely a bit of 20/20 hindsight to say the Pels made the wrong choice, but seeing these two in the NBA Finals definitely raises a lot of “what-ifs” when it comes to the Pelicans’ past moves.
Williams assistant Willie Green is now a candidate for the head job in New Orleans so it’s possible the Pels could try to symbolically fix their checkered history, but if this team can’t find success soon with Zion Williamson, we may be writing another one of these articles in a few years about him.