It’s been quite a crazy day in the NBA world. One of the biggest headlines that emerged from Wednesday was the New Orleans Pelicans’ decision to fire head coach Stan Van Gundy after just one season at the helm. As it turns out, this shocking turn of events had a lot to do with Zion Williamson.
According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, one of the primary reasons behind SVG’s firing stems from his refusal to use Zion as a playmaker. This has been something that Pelicans executive vice president David Griffin has been campaigning for for quite some time now, and Van Gundy’s unwillingness to implement this change ultimately led to his sacking:
Griffin, sources said, is a front-office mind who wants input in his coach’s rotations and lineup configurations, such as Zion Williamson’s optimal position. Griffin’s front office emphasized moving Williamson from the frontcourt into more of a lead ball-handler.
Multiple Pelicans staffers believe that adjustment, as well as letting Van Gundy go, was in part due to continuing efforts by Griffin to win favor with Williamson, such as his public statement about adverse officiating toward his team’s star that drew a $50,000 fine.
It’s no secret that Griffin and the Pelicans will do everything in their power to keep Zion happy in New Orleans. He is clearly their cornerstone star of the future, and they have to make sure that Williamson remains with the team for the long haul. If this includes a coaching change, then so be it.
It is also worth noting that according to reports, Pelicans star Brandon Ingram’s relationship with SVG also turned sour throughout the season. The pair did not exactly see eye to eye and this was yet another reason behind the front office’s decision to part ways with Van Gundy.
The Pelicans will have no shortage of candidates for the head coaching post. Perhaps the biggest factor that will come into play, however, is this new coach’s ability to build a good working relationship with the team’s stars.