The Pelicans have fired head coach Monty Williams.
General manager Dell Demps, who’ll lead the search for a new coach, said he informed the future of the franchise, Anthony Davis of the decision in a one-on-one meeting after the move was made. When asked about Davis’ reaction, Demps said, “That’ll stay between us.”
Davis, already a two-time All-Star at age 22, is entering the final year of his contract before he becomes a restricted free agent. He can sign an extension as early as July, but also could choose to wait until next offseason.
A day after the Pelicans were eliminated from the first round of the playoffs by top-seeded Golden State, Davis called Williams “a great coach,” adding, “The whole team loves him.”
“Monty did a great job. He’s done some really good things for us, but going forward we just felt like we needed something different to get to the next level,” Pelicans executive vice president Mickey Loomis said.
Williams has an overall record of 173-221, with two playoff appearances since landing his first heading coaching job with the Pelicans in 2010.
In a written statement provided to The Associated Press, Williams thanked Pelicans ownership and management for a “unique opportunity.”
“My focus today is to appreciate the great journey over the last few years,” Williams said. “I need to thank my coaches and players because we take pride in our accomplishments as a group in progressing in the right direction and making the playoffs through the challenges of a long season.”
The love shown in the press for Williams was all for nothing as he was let. It was surprising to the league including Steve Kerr who coaches the Golden State team that is now the last game and series that Williams coached for the Pelicans.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Kerr said when told about Williams’ firing.
“You never know what’s going on being the scenes, but I know from facing New Orleans in the first round, I thought Monty was terrific,” Kerr added. “He had his team well prepared.”
This has to be a scrambling of sorts for New Orleans as they don’t want to lose Anthony Davis. Davis is due to be a restricted free agent after next season, he’ll likely have to agree to at least a three-year extension, but could opt for a maximum five-year extension if he’s happy with the direction of the club.
Considering that most think Davis is one of the top 3 players in the league, the right coaching choice has to be made now or else Davis could leave New Orleans just as Chris Paul did after the 2012 season. Paul was traded since he was unhappy, Davis could leave for a bigger market. The blow of Davis leaving might be even more devastating to franchise.
Who replaces Williams?
There hasn’t been a ton of talk yet, but the early rumors all stated Scott Brooks. Brooks was just let go by the Thunder after failing to qualify for the playoffs by one game surprisingly to Williams and the Pelicans.
Brooks was the NBA Coach of the Year in 2010 and led the Thunder to the NBA Finals in 2012. He went 338-207 in seven season as coach of the Thunder.
Brooks was brought into OKC to help the development of future stars, Durant & Westbrook. It might be noted the development of James Hardin as well. The Pelicans will be looking for that same type of development with Anthony Davis.
Orlando has been on the ‘hire brooks’ train as well so it will be interesting to see where Brooks coaches next year if he does decide to coach.