Ed-itorial: who coaches Pels important, who makes personnel decisions even more so


CHICAGO, IL – OCTOBER 14: Head coach Stan Van Gundy of the Detroit Pistons compalins to a referee
during a preseason gameagainst the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on October 14, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The Pistons defeated the Bulls 114-91. Note to User: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using the photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The Pelicans have hired Stan Van Gundy as their new head coach.

They could not have picked a more different personality than head coach Alvin Gentry, a genuine good guy, who saw sunshine even in the most difficult times.

That is not Van Gundy. He can be intense, and demanding. He has a rep as a defensive coach and a developer of young talent. Perhaps so.

But, here’s my take. The head coach in the NBA may win a handful of games for you in a season, but the general manager or the final decision maker on personnel can win 15 or 20.

At the end of the 2017-2018 season, the Detroit Pistons parted with Van Gundy. He had a decent nucleus, one that included center Andre Drummond, and forward Blake Griffin. The club traded for Griffin before the February trade deadline.

Detroit finished with 39 wins, and 43 losses.

Stan Van Gundy could have extended his stay by several years in Detroit, but he made one huge blunder. In the 2017 draft, Detroit selected Luke Kennard. Donovon Mitchell was then selected with the next pick.

In three NBA seasons, Mitchell has averaged 22.7 points per game. His scoring average has increased every year. Last season, it was 24 points per game.

The spin now is that Van Gundy will coach, and the front office will make the moves necessary to get the Pelicans into contention. Maybe so.

The ball is now in the court of executive VP of basketball operations, David Griffin. Are the Pelicans able to swing a deal for a center, to rebound and protect the rim? Is Jrue Holiday part of any such deal?

Can Van Gundy, who has a reputation for developing post players, coax rapid improvement from second year center Jaxson Hayes?

While you ponder here’s a thought. Only one Hornets/Pelicans head coach has left with a winning record. That would be Paul Silas, who won 47 games, and was fired after the 2002-2003 season.


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