Top candidates to replace Alvin Gentry as Pelicans head coach

By Vincent Frank
Nov 16, 2019; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs assistant coaches Will Hardy, Becky Hammon, and Tim Duncan look on in the second half of the game against the Portland Trail Blazers after head coach Gregg Popovich was ejected at the AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

In what can’t be considered too much of a surprise, the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday fired head coach Alvin Gentry following a 30-win 2019-20 season.

Gentry has been on the hot seat pretty much since New Orleans hired him ahead of the 2015-16 season. He finishes his Pelicans tenure with a substandard 175-225 record.

The New Orleans head-coaching job will now be among the most attractive in the NBA. Whoever lands the job will be able to work with one of the most-talented young groups in the NBA, including Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram.

Below, we look at the best possible candidates to replace Gentry in New Orleans

David Fizdale

Widely respected in NBA circles, Fizdale got a bad wrap after less than two seasons as the Grizzlies’ head coach. He then took over a sinking ship with the New York Knicks back in 2018-19, only to be fired 22 games into this season. The longtime assistant needs to find a more stable setting. New Orleans could very well provide that.

Fizdale’s experience includes assistant coaching stints with the Golden State Warriors, Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat. He was the lead assistant under one of the best coaches in the NBA, Erik Spoelstra, for eight seasons before landing the Memphis job

Tyronn Lue

It’s just a matter of time before the 43-year-old Lue lands another head-coaching job after an extremely successful stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Los Angeles Clippers current assistant boasted a 211-128 record in Cleveland, leading the team to the NBA Finals each of the three full seasons he manned the bench.

Lue has a history of working with big time stars. Namely, one LeBron James. He would be a great fit with Zion Williamson as the big man ascends from youngster to superstar in New Orleans.

Becky Hammon

Hammon’s name continues to come up whenever an opening is created around the NBA. For good reason. She’s been one of Gregg Popovich’s lead assistants for the past six years. Before San Antonio brought in all-time great Tim Duncan, it was assumed that Pop was grooming Hammon to be the Spurs’ next head coach.

It’s not yet known how that’s going to work out. However, hiring someone of Hammon’s ilk would be a great move for the Pelicans. She has the pedigree. She has the experience. She’s widely respected among players in the Association. It’s just a matter of time before Hammon makes history and becomes the first female head coach in any of the four major North American professional sports leagues.

Tim Duncan

Yet another Spurs assistant, the idea of hiring Duncan to help groom Williamson has to be seen as appealing to Pelicans front office head David Griffin. Just imagine the five-time NBA champion teaching Mt. Zion the nuances of dominating in the block.

Duncan, 44, shocked the masses by returning to the NBA as an assistant. He’s now seen as an up-and-comer around the Association. If not with San Antonio, Duncan will land a head-coaching job somewhere else here soon.

Mark Jackson

It’s been talked about on a never-ending loop. How in the world has Jackson not landed a job after he pretty much set up the Warriors’ dynasty of the past half-decade? Jackson posted a 98-66 record in his final two seasons with Golden State, earning two playoff appearances in the process.

There’s some hubbub in NBA circles that suggests Jackson has been blackballed. That could very well have to do with his religious beliefs and how they seem to counter the NBA’s current progressive approach. Either way, Jackson has the experience and previous success to be mentioned here.