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Roundtable: Rating the Alvin Gentry hiring

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The Bird Writes grades the Gentry signing on a scale of 1 to 10 and discusses whether he represents a solid chance to take the Pelicans to the next level, as management had promised the next coach would have that capability.

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Oleh Kosel: 4. It may seem harsh, but I can't grade the move any higher. Despite the fact that Alvin Gentry is a player's coach, well-respected and is considered one of the best offensive minds in the game, a head coach needs to be so much more. This is especially true when the Pelicans had their choice of some very worthy candidates, a far cry from the situation back in 2010.

Besides his previous teams having all sorts of problems defensively, Gentry's rotations and ability to lead and motivate young players have been questioned multiple times in the past. Now, if the Pelicans were to bring in a noted defensive assistant coach, say a Brian Shaw or Don Newman type, that would raise the grade...some.

However, I'd never feel comfortable giving anything higher than a 6 or a 7. Although on paper it sounds great to divvy up the offensive/defensive responsibilities, I have reservations that perfect harmony will be achieved, let alone last for the long term.

One, a coaching staff with a number of important voices requires a great manger of people. Steve Kerr has exhibited that quality but Gentry has never been accoladed similarly. Two, the staff needs to buy into the program and work together much like a team does on the floor: hard and together. This is why I'm hesitant to agree certain candidates like Mike Malone would make for great side kicks. Three, successful teams suffer from turnover, just like the poor ones. Members of coaching staffs will leave for greener pastures. Unlike the Spurs who can rely on a system created by Gregg Popovich, RC Buford and others (and hence plug in any number of different cogs), the Pelicans are infinitely more reliant on specific individuals for their success in Gentry's system.

Essentially, for this to work and to be considered a move to the next level, Alvin Gentry learning while with the Clippers and Warriors has to be a very real thing. The reason I have doubts is because that would mean it took him 24 years to achieve a required level of understanding to successfully be able to give a talented team an opportunity to legitimately compete for a championship.

David Fisher: 6. Hiring Gentry is a solid six for me. The Pelicans will, undoubtedly, be both more entertaining and find creative methods to ensure Anthony Davis touches the ball in high leverage situations.

As far as taking New Orleans to the next level, that is much less clear. Right now I see the Pelicans as a fringe playoff team in a stacked Western Conference. Oklahoma City and Utah both should be better next year. The "next level" is a solid playoff team and ideally a fringe title contender. Gentry has accomplished that only once in his career with the 2009-10 Phoenix Suns.

Ultimately Gentry is both safe and unsafe. The other choices on the board, Jeff Van Gundy and (hypothetically) Tom Thibodeau have superior track records of creating contenders. In addition, both specialize first on defense, where the Pelicans require the greatest improvement. Van Gundy and Thibodeau were going to make the Pelicans better, I had no doubt in my mind. Kenny Atkinson or Fred Hoiberg were unproven, but that also potentially raises the possibility of them being an absolute home run.

Instead, we hope that Gentry's historical performance does not indicate future performance and that he has made significant strides on defense or will bring in someone who can accomplish that task. Dell Demps stuck to his beliefs on how he thinks this team should be coached, offense/pace first, and then chose the safest choice of those types of candidates. Considering Hoiberg's imminent announcement in Chicago, Gentry may have been the only real offensive guy who was willing to come to New Orleans.

Nico Bagio: 7. I think it comes down to his staff and from his staff I'll be looking at two things: a strong defense-oriented lead assistant and an open-minded crew. That's all. You get both of those and this hire is a solid 10.

Gentry's philosophies are the evolution of the 7SOL (7 seconds or less) to 12SOU (12 seconds and under). They don't want to shoot early, they want to attack early. Two different things.

Kevin Barrios: 6. I'd say this is a 6 or I could possibly talk myself into a 7 if I put in the effort. To me, Alvin Gentry is the NBA's Norv Turner. He's a great offensive mind that transforms a team when he's their lead assistant. He makes offenses look so seemingly flawless that he is constantly considered and often given chances to take the reigns on another team as the head coach.

That's when the problem presents itself with both men. Once in command, they typically will make a bad team mediocre, but they really haven't been able to make a good team great. I'm not sure if it is a lack of defensive knowledge or if it comes down to management style/personality. In the NBA, I believe a great offense trumps a great defense in most cases.

That being said, you need at least a middle of the road defense to be relevant. The good news is, we made it to the playoffs with a bad defense, a bad game manager at the helm and a decent — yet, unimaginative — offense that refused to feature our best player. If we don't get worse on the defensive end and we are markedly better on offense, we can be a contender. Remember, no matter the coach, we still have a top 3 player in the league on our team and players are more important than coaches in the NBA.

Aside from Gentry's poor defensive track record, my main concern is that he is known to be a very friendly, affable guy. That could work, but I felt that Monty Williams wasn't tough enough on his guys in the right way (he seemed to play weird mind games that didn't work, or maybe I'm giving him too much credit). We lacked discipline on this team, so I'm worried that Gentry's personality won't fix that issue.

My other gripe is that Jeff Van Gundy was out there and interested and that felt like a really good hire. However, I am excited to see us utilize more off the ball movement, cuts and screens. I can't wait to see our first 2-for-1.

Chris Cucchiara: 8. I give the Gentry hire an 8 because I think he will make the team exciting on the offensive end and he will bring some of the knowledge gained from the current Golden State Warriors team. I think he will be an upgrade over Monty, how much of an upgrade is anyone’s guess.

If you look back to Gentry’s teams in Phoenix, his top two players were Steve Nash and Amar’e Stoudamire.  Those two were great offensively but were not only bad defensively, they were liabilities. Replace those two with Jrue (one of the top perimeter defenders in the NBA) and AD, I look for a top 5 offense and a top 12 defense in year one.

The rating could go up or down based upon the assistants that are brought in to the organization.  If there is one thing that Gentry learned after his Phoenix tenure, its that the assistants are almost as vital to the team's success as the head coach.

Jamile Dunn: Supposing that Gentry hires a great defensive assistant to compliment his offense, I would give this hire a 10. If nothing else, this team will no longer be boring and Anthony Davis will have Godly numbers. If a solid defensive mind is not added, then I'll give it an 8.

Many folks worry about Gentry being 60, I don't. If he's the right fit and we can have 5-6 awesome years under him, then finding another great coach after he retires won't be an issue. We've got to get the next 5 years right and I think that was the mindset of the Pelicans brass going into this process.

Peyton Fine: 6, mainly because I don't think he will be the coach that brings a title to NOLA. At every step that Gentry has been successful, he has had the good fortune of relative health with his roster and, more importantly, a world-class point guard (Nash in Phoenix and Curry in Golden State).

Based on the Pels' history, I do not see that happening, making me wary of how much better the offense will get. Even if he can create a world-class offense, it is only one facet of the game (albeit more important than defense) and leaves our head coach relying on a defensive-minded assistant, who could leave at any point.

All of this makes Gentry feel like a bridge to another coach who could bring a title, and not the proverbial "one."  Hence, the 6, even though I am incredibly excited to watch what Gentry creates.

Quentin Haynes: 8. I think this move should help take the Pelicans to the next level. Gentry is a good coach, perhaps underrated going through this process. I think he’ll only ignite an already great offensive team and correctly use the talents at his disposal to fix the defensive side. My only concern is that Gentry never really had a great defense with him at the helm.

This move puts additional pressure for the Pelicans next year. You can't fall into the playoffs next year; this team has to win 50 games next season and improve defensively. They have to take that jump Portland made two years ago.

Do I think Gentry can do that? I do.

Matty Robinson: 8. I think the Pelicans landed a very good coach in Gentry, who has a much better chance of taking the Pelicans to the next level than Williams. Although Gentry has yet to select the rest of his staff, I have faith the assistants assembled will be to my satisfaction.

Zachary Junda: 6. I'll give it a cautiously optimistic 6 out of 10. This hire can be a hit, like when Gentry took Phoenix to a Western Conference Finals, or it can fizzle like how he failed to make the playoffs 10 out of the 12 years he's been a coach.

Gentry's teams are average at best defensively and good to really good offensively and in terms of pace, and that's where I think this team needs to be in order to be successful. Basketball people a lot smarter than me like the hire, so I trust them.

But if we're being honest here, the overall health of the players will dictate the Pelicans' future rather than who's coaching them.