The New Orleans Pelicans hired Alvin Gentry as their newest head coach, the team announced Saturday. Gentry takes over for Monty Williams, who was somewhat surprisingly let go after leading New Orleans to the playoffs this season.
Gentry will finish his current duties with the Golden State Warriors, where he is the top assistant to Steve Kerr. The Warriors matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals begins Thursday.
The 60-year-old Gentry is widely hailed as an offensive genius. He largely helped take Golden State from a mostly middle-of-the-pack offense to a fast-paced, uber-efficient juggernaut this season as the team switched coaches from Mark Jackson to Steve Kerr. Gentry is also a graduate of the Phoenix Suns’ Seven Seconds or Less school, where he worked with Mike D’Antoni before leading the team to a conference final as head coach.
Gentry’s status as an offensive guru is welcome in New Orleans, where Williams was oft-criticized for unimaginative sets that failed to enhance the offensive talent on his roster. Gentry will be expected to fully realize the potential of up-and-coming destroyer of worlds Anthony Davis, who posted a 30.89 PER in the regular season.
While Gentry can no doubt bring some offensive sophistication to New Orleans, his hiring will stand to be very important for the franchise’s future. Davis will receive a huge contract extension offer when his rookie deal is up, but his long-term desire to remain with the Pelicans could very well depend on his relationship with Gentry moving forward. There’s no evidence players don’t like playing for Gentry, but the guru label will only take him so far.
Tom Thibodeau revolutionized defense in the NBA, but he was fired after five extremely successful seasons in Chicago, with mixed support from his players. David Blatt was hailed as a master tactician before the regular season in Cleveland, but he’s been mainly a punchline since the season started.
The bet is Gentry’s skills on the whiteboard will be enough to quell any sense of Davis growing frustrated with the Pelicans—basically, what Scott Brooks wasn’t able to do with Kevin Durant in Oklahoma City. That gamble will work hand-in-hand with a front office that has already had some issues with building a suitable roster around Davis, who seems ready to take the leap into super-superstardom.
For now, we can enjoy the visions of Davis becoming a cutting, dunking, maybe-corner-three shooting monster in a spread, pick-and-roll offense designed around him by Gentry. But time will tell if Gentry and the Pelicans’s front office are successful enough to keep Davis in New Orleans through his prime.
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