Stan Van Gundy made his first ever public appearance since being removed as the head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans on the Stupidity Podcast. Van Gundy was adamant that Zion Williamson was not the reason why the Pelicans decided to go in a different direction going forward.
“I hate when it gets put on players that players are getting coaches fired and things like that. I think that makes players look bad and I don’t think that’s fair,” Van Gundy said on the “Stupodity” podcast. “Players certainly have the right to express their opinion to people and things like that but front offices and owners make decisions and they are the ones who make decisions to fire people. That should never be placed on players.
“I know this, regardless of what happened in that regard, Zion’s no coach killer. He’s a guy who is gonna help you win a lot of games. He plays the game the right way. One of the things I’ll miss is the opportunity to continue to coach him. He’s so unique in the way that he plays the game and the things that he can do, it really gets your mind spinning as a coach and you have a lot of possibilities in what you can do with him. That was fun to explore. I’m happy with what we did with Zion. I think we helped him. How anyone else felt about that would be up to them.”
Van Gundy was responding to a series questions asked on the podcast about him being fired because Williamson’s family was reportedly unhappy with the Pelicans production on the court. He made it clear that Williamson or his family members had anything to do with his removal from the team.
“I don’t know anything about that,” Van Gundy said. “In my mind, I liked coaching Zion. I had a good relationship with him. I had no problem. I think we elevated his platform that we gave him. We put him in different situations, had him handling the ball a lot, playing a lot of point guard. I think we did some good things with him.
“If they were unhappy, I didn’t hear about it. Zion was unhappy with us not winning more games, but Zion never expressed to me any of that. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t unhappy, it’s possible that they were unhappy with me and that’s what led to the change.”
Van Gundy has stated that him along with executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin were not on the same page when it comes to building the right direction of the team. At the moment, the Pelicans are still in the hunt to find a new head coach. The latest reports state that team is interesting in assistants Willie Green and Charles Lee. Both individuals are currently in the midst of playoff series with their teams right now. Van Gundy finished the season with a 31-41 record.
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