After what was a disappointing time inside the Disney World bubble, the New Orleans Pelicans front office have made their first move of the offseason. It comes in the form of a major shakeup in the coaching department, with the Pelicans opting to part ways with head coach Alvin Gentry.
Having signed with New Orleans in 2015, Gentry spent five seasons with the franchise. His most memorable season came during the 2017-18 season when he coached the Pelicans all the way to the Western Conference Semifinals — the farthest this team has ventured to in the playoffs throughout franchise history.
Unfortunately, that was the only time New Orleans made it to the playoffs throughout Gentry's tenure. This was culminated by another disappointing finish this term, as the Pelicans were relegated to another playoff-less campaign.
So who's next in line? We have five compelling candidates below that have already been linked to the recently-vacated post. It is likely that one of these names will be announced by the front office sooner rather than later. After all, the coaching job is just one of many pressing concerns the Pelicans need to attend to this offseason, so it would be best for them to have this settled at the soonest time possible.
Hall of Fame point guard Jason Kidd has emerged as one of the most sought-after coaches in the entire league. Currently, Kidd is serving as an assistant to Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel. This follows a four-year stint with the Milwaukee Bucks, during which Kidd coached a young Giannis Antetokounmpo who was still on his way to superstardom at that point.
Nevertheless, Kidd has to be given some credit for the rise of Giannis to the MVP he is today, and perhaps Kidd can guide Pelicans rookie sensation Zion Williamson to a similar path in New Orleans.
Tyronn Lue's coaching career is pretty similar to that of Kidd, except that Lue has the accolades to back his resume up. Now an assistant with the Los Angeles Clippers, Lue was the man at the helm when a LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers side made that historic comeback in the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors back in 2016. However, the Cavs struggled upon LeBron's departure, which led to Lue getting the ax.
Lue won the NBA championship in his first season as a head coach and followed that up with back-to-back Eastern Conference titles the following two seasons. This might be the winning mentality the Pelicans need to finally make themselves relevant in the league.
It seems that Becky Hammon's name always comes up whenever there is a job opening, but for some reason, it never comes to fruition. Could this opportunity with the Pelicans finally be the charm for her? Has the time come for the first female head coach in the history of the NBA?
Hammon does have the best narrative, but make no mistake about it — she has the potential to be an excellent coach in the league. Despite having no prior experience as an NBA head coach, she has been under the tutelage of the great Gregg Popovich as a long-time assistant with the San Antonio Spurs.
Another name on the long list of candidates for the Pelicans is David Fizdale. Recently with the New York Knicks, Fizdale got himself fired following a 4-18 start to the 2019-20 season. This was preceded by another terrible campaign, wherein the Knicks finished 17-65 during the 2018-19 campaign.
Despite a rather miserable time in The Big Apple, it could be argued that Fizdale was bound to fail the moment he signed with the Knicks. It was an impossible task to turn that team around, and he was in the unfortunate position of being the fall guy early this season.
Fizdale is actually a very good coach — as made evident by his .495 win-loss record in a season and a half with the Memphis Grizzlies — and in New Orleans, he might be presented with a luxury that he never had in New York: time.
Last but certainly not least, we have Mark Jackson. Honestly, it is quite baffling why he has been overlooked time and time again. Surely, more than a few teams could have done worse than Jackson over the past few years.
The last we saw Jackson as an NBA coach was with the Golden State Warriors. This was during the pre-dynasty era, but many credit him for laying the foundation of what eventually became one of the greatest teams in league history.
Jackson spent three years in Oakland, where he amassed a .526 winning record. In New Orleans, he would have the opportunity to coach a young core that holds a ton of potential. The building blocks are already there. It just needs the right man at the helm.