It’s official: Pelicans hire Suns assistant Willie Green as new head coach

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Now that the NBA Finals are over, the long-expected can become official:

Former NBA player and Suns assistant coach Willie Green is the new head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans.

 

“New Orleans is going to have a really good guy on their hands that is taking control in leading that group,” Suns star Devin Booker said of Green during the NBA Finals.

“Willie has established himself as one of the most respected assistant coaches in the NBA. In large part, this is due to a tireless work ethic and authenticity of character,” said Pelicans GM David Griffin in a statement. “He brings a vast amount of basketball knowledge and experience to our team as both a coach and former player, along with exceptional leadership qualities and an innate ability to connect with players, staff and fans alike. We could not be more excited to welcome Willie and his family to New Orleans.”

Green spent a dozen seasons as an NBA player (including one season in New Orleans) and then — at the urging of Doc Rivers — became a coach. He was first with the Warriors, then jumped to Monty Williams’ staff in Phoenix. Meaning he has won and been to the finals everywhere he has coached.

Green is respected as a guy who can build relationships with players, something needed along with a fresh voice in New Orleans. Green would provide that, taking over for Stan Van Gundy, who lasted one season in New Orleans.

Green takes over a job with potential thanks to the Zion Williamson-led roster, but one that comes with immediate expectations. Green’s top priority will be to forge a strong bond with Zion, who reportedly has family in his ear trying to get him to another team. Green will be Zion’s third coach in three years.

Griffin will have a strong hand in everything in New Orleans, including player rotations, something Van Gundy (and almost hired coach Jacque Vaughn) reportedly were not comfortable with.