The Pelicans Part Ways with Coach Monty Williams and Look to the Future

by Jordan McGuire on May 13, 2015

monty-playoffs

We let the news of Monty Williams’ exit sink in for a day before writing this post. I wanted to get the feelings and opinions around the league before diving into this topic. I have never been a hater of Monty Williams, but he has sometimes struggled in late-game situations and got swept in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs this season. However, I’m not entirely on board with the latest decision from the Pelicans organization. In this post, we’ll briefly cover the career Monty had in New Orleans, discuss this past season, how the organization’s been plagued with injuries and what the future holds for the birds from the Crescent City.

The move to fire Monty Williams came somewhat of a surprise around the league but it has always been a looming possibility around New Orleans. Monty brought the Pelicans to the playoffs for the first time since they drafted Anthony Davis four years ago. For the first time in its young franchise’s history, the Pelicans had made the postseason. You may be thinking that it was all Anthony Davis, and Monty had nothing to do with it, but you’d be wrong. Kinda.

Obviously, Anthony Davis had an absolute breakout season and is now widely regarded as the world of basketball’s next big thing but Monty had a lot to do with it. Pelicans went 45-37 this season, which is the best in franchise history, and they did it with guys missing games due to injuries (more on that later). The season ultimately ended after a 20 point deficit was quickly erased in Game 3 against the No. 1 seeded Golden State Warriors. It was a flat out embarrassment in front of a spirited New Orleans crowd. That game in particular could’ve been Monty’s undoing, and I think that is completely unfair. You cannot place blame on a coach for allowing 14 offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter alone. That’s on the toughness of the players on the court and just a pure lack of tenacity and postseason experience. I believe Monty’s future is bright wherever he goes because it seems that every ex-Hornet/Pelican sees greener pastures when they leave (cough cough Austin Rivers). Monty has coached with Team USA, San Antonio Spurs and will now be looking towards leading the Orlando Magic or Denver Nuggets this offseason.

Injuries have been the constant thorn in Monty’s tenure as the head coach. In five seasons, he has never truly had a lineup at full strength for the duration of the season. We all know the history of Eric Gordon. Recently we have seen Ryan Anderson and Jrue Holiday catch the injury bug and sidelined them for most of both last season and this season. This year alone, Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon missed a combined 98 games. Jrue missed 42 games this season. Injuries have been an unfortunate trend for the Pelicans and who knows how good this young squad could’ve been at full strength? I know that they wouldn’t have had to play the Warriors in the first round at least.

There are many coaches on the horizon and the youthful talent is abundant in the Big Easy. Offseason moves should only involve finding a new coaching staff because I truly believe that the Pelicans should build from within and try to form a nucleus of young talent and gain experience together. Staying healthy will ultimately bring success to this up-and-coming franchise and I’m very excited to see the progression of Anthony Davis unfold right before our eyes. First, we need to sign that man and get him the coach he wants.

Here are the possibilities:

Tom Thibodeau

This is the choice that makes the most sense to everyone around the league on paper. Thibodeau has coached Anthony Davis in the Team USA circuit and has brought great success to the Chicago Bulls. Thibodeau preaches toughness both offensively and defensively and will play his guys upwards of 40 minutes a game. He is currently down 3-2 against the LeBron James-led Cavs and I believe he sees the light at the end of the tunnel with the Bulls. He would be a good fit with the Pelicans and could bring valuable postseason experience to the young squad.

John Calipari

John Calipari has solidified himself as the greatest recruiter in college basketball history. He had the most talented Kentucky team maybe ever in the realm of college basketball and gathers talent annually. He has also coached Anthony Davis and Tyreke Evans during their college careers. Not sure if Cal has the X’s and O’s yet for the NBA but he would sure bring excitement and a completely new identity to New Orleans.

Mark Jackson

I think Mark Jackson is an exceptional players’ coach. What I mean by that is that he would be completely adored by the players and organization. He is a fun guy to be around on and off the court but is in the same ballpark as Monty when it comes to calling set plays and running a fluid offense.

Scott Brooks

Brooks did a fine job with the Oklahoma City Thunder. You can always tell that he had his players’ backs on and off the court. He struggled with injuries all year which ultimately cost him his job. The Thunder failed to make the postseason this year and it was simply because Kevin Durant was sidelined for most of the year. He falls into the same category as Mark Jackson. Brooks had exceptional talent but couldn’t exactly wrangle them in to play his style of ball.

Alvin Gentry

Alvin Gentry currently is being courted by the Chicago Bulls but that doesn’t mean anything at this point in time. Gentry is currently assisting under Steve Kerr with the Golden State Warriors and has seen tremendous success this season. He runs an uptempo style offensively which would go swimmingly for the New Orleans Pelicans. He has had some postseason success and has miles of coaching experience as he is nearing the age of 60. I believe Gentry is the dark-horse candidate for the New Orleans Pelicans and I think he would do wonders for the organization.

Whichever way the Pelicans decide to go, I hope it makes Anthony Davis happy. He is the true future of the franchise and management should make their decision based off his opinions.

But for now, farewell Monty. You are a classy man on and off the court and you will be sorely missed. Watch an interview from WWL below: