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Roundtable: Finding the perfect coach for the New Orleans Pelicans

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Now that we have eliminated some of our worst nightmares, let's all discuss our coaching daydreams.

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Who is your ideal replacement for Monty Williams?

Oleh Kosel: Jeff Van Gundy. Although there are a number of appealing candidates (Thibodeau, Atkinson, Miller), JVG sits atop my list. Tomorrow, I'll delve in much greater detail into his background and characteristics and why he would mesh well in New Orleans, but for now, I'll just mention several things quickly. Van Gundy has proven he is most adept at developing great team defenses and his systems are developed around existing personnel, not the other way around (a la Monty Williams).

David Fisher: I am torn between Kenny Atkinson (the unknown) and Tom Thibodeau (the known). Atkinson brings the sex appeal of offense and spacing and pace. Thibodeau brings fewer variables, which is both good (the Pelicans will win with Thibodeau, I have no doubt) and bad (can he take the suggestion of not playing Anthony Davis 40+ minutes per game?) for the future. It feels like choosing between cap space and players to me. I usually want players, not white space. I don't think coaching matters as much as players, so give me the glamour and appeal of offense in Atkinson.

Quentin Haynes: Atlanta Hawks assistant Kenny Atkinson. The Pelicans could thrive with a coach that believes in keeping players in good health, player development and three pointers. I’m all in on Atkinson, as I believe his experience with Atlanta and New York, especially on the defensive end, could help New Orleans become a top 12 defense, and in turn, a top 5 seed in the Western Conference.

Isaac Constans: I hate UK. Sorry, Wildcat fans, but I'm not a big proponent of the one-and-done system that cranks out NBA players like a factory does toys. You play with them for a year until you outgrow them (or in this case, they outgrow you) and you buy yourself a new one. There's not even any pretense of loyalty. And your coach, by the way, he's a jerk.

While I'd hate to see Calipari have the personal accomplishment of succeeding with an NBA team, I'd hate even more for him to succeed with another NBA team. Whether or not it's true that his past employers have had deep pockets and shallow morals, Calipari is a damn good coach, in-game and out. While he's not always the most likable figure roaming the sidelines, Coach Cal gets W's with young talent, and supplements existing talent. And that's what the Pelicans need.

Despite the one-and-done system, the small selection of players Calipari does convince to settle in Lexington turn out quite well, with Willie Cauley-Stein being the newest example. Cauley-Stein's game grew enormously during his Kentucky stay, as he transitioned from a pure shot-blocking and floor-running big man to an inside enforcer while maintaining his agility. And although you could say the reason he is able to cycle players through so easily is that they're all big names used to the spotlight, isn't that what the NBA is on an even greater level. And if Calipari can convince all of those stars to collide, can't he convince some more talent to come to New Orleans?

Calipari also loves the city of New Orleans, as he has expressed in several interviews with Jen Hale. The minor considerations, such as a coach's adaptation to the city and happiness with surroundings, that can affect job performance could be thrown out the window. And most obviously, Calipari is familiar with New Orleanians, the relevant ones in this case. Tyreke Evans and Anthony Davis both blossomed under Calipari, and have maintained close relationships with their college coach. He even stops by to see them play.

Finally, Calipari's strategy just works. He employs a defense-based system that relies on pressing man-on-man and does not switch frequently. This system would work in New Orleans for the obvious reason that Omer Asik, Alexis Ajinca, and all the other big men with the exception of AD are useless on the perimeter. Calipari's twin towers of the past have generally stayed near the rim and if there was a shooting big man, then only one would be assigned to him. Monty's habitual switching was all too regular and led to some big mismatches, leaving both big men on the perimeter. This would not happen in New Orleans with Calipari piloting the Pels. The point is, switching has become the easy way out in the NBA and a stringent system of man defense with help coming only in the paint would benefit any team, especially the Pels.

Chris Cucchiara: Tom Thibodeau. First of all, the hate has gone way too far on Thibs. All of the bloggers for the Pels have made it a point to say, "I love Thibs, but just not for THIS team." The Pels roster as currently constructed will not be the same in two years and may be significantly different in 2015, so that argument is nonsense. Thibs is regarded as the best defensive coach in the NBA and will make this Pels team a significantly better defensive team than we saw under Monty. What about offense you say? The Bulls under Thibs had the following Offensive Ratings from 2011 to 2015, 11th, 5th, 23rd, 28th and 11th. Those two years of 23rd and 28th ratings occurred when Derrick Rose played a total of 10 games (see David and Oleh's timeline for this info). The Pels have better offensive players than the Bulls have. I am not concerned. Obviously, I would love for the Pels to get some assistant coach that can grow with the Pels and AD, but I believe that Thibs is the safe bet that cannot fail. I see no scenario in which Thibs fails as the Pels coach and AD decides to leave because he hates to lose. I can see the Pels hiring an assistant coach who is no better than Monty and AD leaving after his second contract. Give me safe and successful every time.

Jamile Dunn: Seems like people like Fred Hoiberg but his team's defense have been terrible and then there is the heart issue (he just had his second open heart surgery). Nobody wants to talk about that but it has be factored in. I would say Kenny Atkinson from the Hawks or Sean Miller from Arizona. My dream scenario is that one of those guys is brought in and can get Mike Malone in as their lead assistant/Defensive coordinator.