Stan Van Gundy named new coach of New Orleans Pelicans

Stan Van Gundy has been named the new head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans, the team announced Thursday.

"I'm excited to join a talented New Orleans Pelicans team," Van Gundy said Wednesday on Twitter. "It will be an honor to work with our players and to work for Mrs. Benson and David Griffin, Trajan Langdon, their staff and the great people of New Orleans. I can't wait to talk to our players and get the process started."

Van Gundy, the former Miami Heat, Orlando Magic and Detroit Pistons head coach, becomes the seventh coach in Pelicans franchise history.

The Pelicans and Van Gundy's representative, Brian Elfus, reached agreement on terms for the multiyear deal on Wednesday morning, sources told ESPN.

"We are delighted to welcome Stan, his wife Kim and their family to the New Orleans Pelicans," Pelicans vice president David Griffin said in a statement released by the team Thursday. "Stan's track record of success as a head coach speaks for itself. His ability to teach while building genuine relationships was one of his many strengths that drew us to him. We feel like we are hiring one of the most accomplished leaders and authentic human beings in the NBA."

As New Orleans' front office navigated the coaching search, Van Gundy's reputation as a teacher of the game in his 11-plus seasons as an NBA head coach stood out -- teaching that will become key as New Orleans attempts to make the leap with a young roster.

Van Gundy's teams also have always stood out on the defensive end. In the 11 seasons he finished as a head coach, Van Gundy's teams were in the top half in the NBA in defensive rating 10 times -- including his last three seasons in Detroit. His teams finished top 10 in defensive rating eight of those seasons.

His four seasons in Detroit included a dual title as president and coach, and personnel decisions -- particularly in the NBA draft -- played a role in limiting the team's success. Still, Van Gundy did elevate the Pistons out of several years in the lottery to the playoffs in 2016 with 44 victories.

Van Gundy, 61, has a 523-384 (.577) regular-season record and 48-43 (.527) playoff record in the NBA. He led the Magic to the 2009 NBA Finals.

Van Gundy inherits a Pelicans squad that underachieved during the NBA restart after having the easiest path, schedule-wise, to make the playoffs. Instead, New Orleans finished 13th in the Western Conference after going 2-6 in Orlando.

However, the future does appear bright for the young Pelicans.

That core features last year's No. 1 overall pick, Zion Williamson, as well as last season's Most Improved Player, Brandon Ingram. It also includes 2019 lottery pick Jaxson Hayes and the 2019 No. 17 pick, Nickeil Alexander-Walker. New Orleans could opt to extend guards Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart once the league year starts; both of them took steps forward in their development last season.

"I am honored and excited to coach this talented group of players in New Orleans," Van Gundy said in a statement released by the team. "This opportunity was one that I was really attracted to due in large part to David Griffin's record of putting together highly competitive, talented teams in a great family atmosphere. ... It became clear how committed and invested they are to winning."

New Orleans also has the No. 13 pick in the upcoming 2020 draft as well as three second-round picks (No. 39, 43 and 60). That's only the beginning of the Pelicans' future draft assets. They still own the Los Angeles Lakers' picks in either 2021 (protected 8-30) or 2022 (unprotected), 2023 (pick swap) and either 2024 or 2025, with New Orleans able to defer a 2024 pick swap one year.

To mix in with that young talent, the Pelicans can lean on guards Jrue Holiday and JJ Redick, the latter of whom played for Van Gundy in Orlando.

Van Gundy will be expected to help guide the young Pelicans through their growing pains and into the playoffs. New Orleans has made the playoffs in only two of the past nine seasons with only a single series win -- a first-round sweep of Portland in the 2018 playoffs.

The lack of success caused Anthony Davis to force his way out of town to the Lakers prior to last season, but it did allow New Orleans to accelerate its rebuild with the haul it received -- a haul that David Griffin, the Pelicans' executive vice president of basketball operations, said will help get New Orleans over the hump.