We are only one day away from the start of another NBA season. The New Orleans Pelicans will have another opportunity to win over a fan base that has yearned to have a competitive team to go along the New Orleans Saints. As usual, it was another offseason that was filled with drama and player movement combined with a new head coach coming on board. The Pelicans decided to move on from Lonzo Ball when he signed a four-year deal worth $85 million deal with the Chicago Bulls.
Acquisitions Eric Bledsoe and Steven Adams were on the move once again when they were involved in trades that included teams such as the Memphis Grizzlies. New Orleans had another change in the head coach position as well. The club decided to part ways with Stan Van Gundy after one season.
Replacing him will be former Phoenix Suns assistant Willie Green. Based on everything that has occurred with the Pelicans this season, the team will either sink or swim going forward. New Orleans has a nucleus that can make things interesting in the Western Conference. However, in the same sentence, there’s a significant chance that they will underachieve once again. The Pelicans have been nowhere near playing in a Western Conference Finals in the past, but the tension around the team would indicate that they are ready to be at least the top-seeded team in the conference.
When family members of Pelicans forward Zion Williamson expressed their frustrations on how the team was headed, it accelerated the expectations from now on. New Orleans was supposed to build themselves as a championship-caliber team in the West slowly. Whether you believe this notion or not, I think Williamson’s family’s frustrations played a significant part in the departure of Coach Van Gundy.
It seems like the decision to hire him was made without putting things into consideration.
Based on my observations, the Pelicans’ production on the court with SVG was the same output seen under previous head coach Alvin Gentry. Combined with Van Gundy’s departure, there’s a narrative about Williamson staying in New Orleans for an extended period.
Under the current contract structure for NBA players, no rookie has ever walked away from the first max-deal offered. Many individuals around the league believe that Williamson could be the first to pull it off. The explanation for that narrative is because he has made so much money off of his shoe deal with Nike and other endorsements.
However, New Orleans can match any offer that teams present to the 2019 number one overall pick. Whatever approach that new head coach Willie Green takes must be entirely different from the route that Gentry and Van Gundy took with their tenures.
How effectively Green can relate and develop the skillsets of both Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram will determine if the Pelicans will be swimming above .500 this season or sinking at the bottom of the Western Conference. There’s mounting tension within the Pelicans organization; fielding a productive team on the court can ease everyone’s frustration. The Pels will start their 2021-2022 season on Wednesday at home against the Philadelphia 76ers.
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