It has been nearly a decade since Jeff Van Gundy roamed a NBA bench as a head coach. Since his last stint as the Houston Rockets coach back in 2006-07, Van Gundy has been calling games for ESPN/ABC.
That might change this upcoming season.
“Jeff Van Gundy has emerged as a candidate for the New Orleans Pelicans’ head-coaching position, according to league sources. Sources told ESPN.com this week that the ESPN analyst has expressed interest in the opening and is under consideration for the job, which opened when the Pelicans dismissed Monty Williams earlier this month.”
For Van Gundy, this shouldn’t be seen as a tremendous surprise. While he hasn’t necessarily flirted with many opportunities since last coaching in the association, the Pelicans are an outlier of sorts. Flush with young talent, including one of the top players in the NBA in the form of Anthony Davis, New Orleans has to be considered an attractive destination for potential head coaches.
Van Gundy joins Golden State Warriors assistant Alvin Gentry and current Chicago Bulls head man Tom Thibodeau as confirmed candidates for the job.
In parts of 11 seasons (nine full) as a NBA head coach, Van Gundy boasts a .575 winning percentage and has led his teams to the playoffs nine times. His most success came with the New York Knicks, where he led the team to five consecutive playoff appearances from 1996-2000. He also led the 1998-99 squad to a surprise appearances in the NBA Finals. New York was the eighth seed in that lockout-shortened campaign.
Van Gundy last coached with the Houston Rockets in 2006-07, leading that squad to 52 wins and a postseason appearance.
If the veteran coach and broadcaster were hired by the Pelicans, it would be a somewhat interesting fit. He ran slower-paced offenses with the Knicks and Rockets—something that likely wouldn’t work well in New Orleans.
The Pelicans finished this season with a 45-37 record before being swept out of the playoffs by the Golden State Warriors in the first round. Shortly thereafter, they made the surprising move to fire Monty Williams.
Photo: USA Today Sports