Pelicans fire coach Alvin Gentry

By Ben Spratt 16 August 2020 3
Pelicans fire coach Alvin Gentry

The New Orleans Pelicans have fired head coach Alvin Gentry after failing to make the NBA playoffs.

Gentry, who had been in charge since May 2015, guided the Pelicans to a 30-42 season in 2019-20, enough only for 13th place in the West.

New Orleans vice president of basketball operations David Griffin said on Saturday: "I'm grateful for and appreciative of Alvin's commitment to the organisation and, most importantly, the local community. The city of New Orleans is richer because of his presence here.

"These types of moves are often about fit and timing, and we believe now is the right time to make this change and bring in a new voice."

Owner Gayle Benson added: "Our intention moving forward is to find the right head coach that will guide this Pelicans team to compete for championships. That is what our fans deserve."

Big things were expected of the Pelicans this year after they landed the number one pick in the 2019 draft lottery and selected standout Duke star Zion Williamson.

Williamson tore his meniscus in preseason, however, and could not make his professional debut until January, by which point New Orleans were struggling to stay in the postseason picture.

Improved displays with the rookie in the team did enough to at least secure an invite to the Orlando 'bubble' amid the coronavirus pandemic, playing eight seeding games.

But Gentry's Pelicans finished last among those Western Conference teams to make the trip to Florida - despite a relatively kind schedule - with Williamson again struggling for fitness after leaving the 'bubble' ahead of the restart before returning.

It was a familiar disappointing theme for New Orleans, who only reached the playoffs in one of Gentry's five seasons at the helm.

Led by Anthony Davis, who made a blockbuster trade to the Los Angeles Lakers last year, the team lost in the conference semi-finals in 2017-18.

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Ben Spratt