The New Orleans Pelicans have made a choice on a new head coach. There were plenty coaches that were considered including Jeff Van Gundy, Vinny Del Negro and even Tom Thibodeau was rumored to be on their list. But in the end, the choice was made to go in a different direction than any of those candidates. The Pelicans decided to name Golden State Warriors assistant head coach Alvin Gentry as the new head coach of the team. He will take over as soon as he finishes coaching in the NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers. There is no doubt that Alvin Gentry is one of the best assistant coaches out there right now. And he has experience as a head coach as well over the years. He inherits a young team that is making its first playoff appearance. The good thing for him is he got to see them up close and personal when he coached against them in the 1st round of the playoffs. And there is little doubt that he is qualified for the position. The Pelicans needed a stronger voice to get them where they wanted to go and they believe Gentry is the guy to do so. But will he bring them what they need?
Gentry is definitely no stranger to being a head coach in the NBA. His experience as a coach with the Miami Heat, Detroit Pistons, Los Angeles Clippers and Phoenix Suns. You would think that someone with as three official head coaching stops (was only an interim head coach in Miami) would have done better as a coach over his time in the NBA. But looking at his record and his teams he has coached, it shows that he has not been that great as a head coach. He has a 335-370 coaching record along with being fired two times during the season (Detroit and Los Angeles) along with missing the playoffs in the seasons he finished 7 seasons he has been a head coach. In all honestly, he may not have been as qualified as the coaches that he was going against for the job. Even Vinny Del Negro can sport a better winning percentage than Gentry and has made the playoffs more than he has missed them as a coach. But the one thing that Gentry has over at least Thibodeau and Del Negro is that he went to the conference finals once as a head coach of the Phoenix Suns. But that is essentially the highlight of his career as a head coach and that is not a great thing. The experience he has helps with a young team, but it has been proven time and time again that he cannot help grow a team over time either. And with a young team that needs help and growth, he may not have been the right answer for them at all.
Gentry is a good assistant and he has made offenses better wherever he has gone. And he will help make the offense better in New Orleans. With the guards that they have, he can do some of the same types of things he did in Golden State provided the players stay healthy. Sure the players in New Orleans are not the same as in Golden State and the guards he has are not as talented as Klay Thompson and Steph Curry, but Jrue Holiday and Eric Gordon are still talented enough to make the offensive scheme work. But unfortunately for Gentry, the Pelicans need work on both ends of the court. Gentry is inheriting a team that gives up any and everything when opponents attack the paint. And that is something that will get you beat and have them missing the playoffs next season. For Gentry, his best bet will be to hire a good defensive coordinator like Ron Adams from Golden State. If he is able to get a good defensive coordinator, then he can focus on making the Pelicans offense dynamic. If he cannot, then it could be a long year in 2015-2016. And that certainly will not sit well with the star of the team, power forward Anthony Davis. If the star is not happy, then Gentry could have some problems and then the team could be put in a position to choose either Gentry or Davis and we know how that one will eventually end up.
The Pelicans may have their new head coach, but it may not have been the best fit for this team. Gentry is a good coach and can make offenses better wherever he goes provided he has the pieces. But in this instance, it is another situation where the head coach is better as an assistant than the head man in charge. Honestly, Thibodeau may not have been a bad option here even though he may have driven the players into the ground with the minutes he plays them. And that may have driven Anthony Davis to more injuries. And in regards to Van Gundy, he would have given them the defense they needed but not the offense they desired. And we all saw what happens when Del Negro is on the bench and how he looks hopeless at times. In the end, Gentry was the chosen out of the available choices there. But with a team that needed defense, the offensive selection may not get it done. Gentry has been a good assistant coach over his career, but a subpar head coach. Only time will tell, but it’s Gentry’s show now and he has some talented young pieces to work with going forward.