Alvin Gentry has compiled a 64-100 record through two seasons in New Orleans. This 39% winning percentage is the lowest mark among his five head coaching jobs in the NBA. Obviously there’s a lot of other factors that need to be considered when scrutinizing someone’s livelihood, but the time to answer the hardest question has come.
Should the Pelicans move on from Alvin Gentry or stay the course to open another season?
I personally think that Gentry's run in New Orleans should come to an end unless Anthony Davis or DeMarcus Cousins adamantly oppose it. The Pelicans are not built to run his run-and-gun style with two Hall of Fame caliber big men. Many of the other writers would love to see Jeff Van Gundy at the helm next season, but personally I would like to see what HOF Kevin McHale could do with this roster.
I'm not a fan of Alvin Gentry. I don't see a reason to keep him, but I worry less about him now as talent trumps coaching in the NBA. Gentry does not fit the way this team is constructed, but I have faith that he can adjust somewhat — still, it's ironic that he would be what everyone said Monty would be — a limit to this team reaching its real potential even if it is winning games.
That being said, he'll be 63 years-old in November in a lame duck season. His contract has a team option for the following year so does it seem likely that he gets that option? Would he at 65 really be a candidate for a second contract? I know there is this idea floating around that keeping Gentry shows Cousins that New Orleans is a stable environment. I understand the thinking a bit, but when you factor in his fit with this roster and the likelihood that he wouldn't be around in two years anyway, why not just make the move now, and work on building stability right away?
Gentry has to go. I'm tempted to direct y'all to my Twitter stream for clarity on the topic, but I'll just spell it out in a few short sentences. The team lacks basic fundamentals, such as pick and roll defense and a post-up game. Gentry is a run-and-gun coach; the Pelicans were kept afloat because of defense. Players were poorly managed throughout the season, both situationally and in terms of playing time. Nobody seems to be in love with him, even if nobody hates him. Simply, in a year when Davis was healthy, the Pelicans failed to strike .500. It's nothing personal, but it shouldn't take Donald Trump to deliver a "you're fired" verdict in this scenario.
Time to go as long as a Jeff Van Gundy or Ettore Messina is willing to take the reins. Assuming Gentry is retained I still expect the team to improve and likely challenge for a playoff spot, but Gentry doesn't maximize the pairing of Davis and Cousins. Boogie can get in great shape and play on a fast paced team. That's not the best Boogie though.
I hate this because I can see both sides of it. What was that line from Hamilton? "If you stand for nothing, Burr, what will you fall for?" Anyway: I don't know.
I think Gentry is probably owed one last chance, especially to really get familiar with Cousins, but I think he should be on a uber-tight leash because you can't screw this up. This Cousins-Davis tandem has the potential to be special and take the franchise to heights it's never been to before. If Gentry can't figure out how to use them, they'd better find somebody who can.
There are tons of pros and cons here, but at the end of the day, the evidence, we as fans are privy to, point to a new head coach.
Alvin Gentry sports a history of underachieving and it has seemingly continued in New Orleans. Injuries derailed a lot of hope, but winning only 40.4% when Anthony Davis suited up (55 victories out of a possible 136), should do more than raise eyebrows when it coincided with occurrences like the need to switch to a blue-collar approach in between seasons (when Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson should have been good fits under Gentry) and then the team’s focus was questioned not that long ago.
Then there’s this:
Yesterday, I posted a chart referring to how well the Pelicans played once Cousins acclimated to his new team. Yet, despite playing like the sixth strongest team for a stretch of 18 games, New Orleans managed to post only a 10-8 record! The players ultimately deserve the most blame for wins and losses, but sometimes the head coach just needs to stand out in a positive way for something... anything.
Among other things, I’m not a fan of the proposed quick tempo going forward. Dell Demps said in his closing season remarks that a team needs to play with a pace that best suits them, yet Gentry remains adamant about playing quickly. He wants Cousins to lose weight — which there is no denying he’s needs to be in better basketball shape — but I worry about DMC’s long term health. Look at his build: he’s the opposite of AD, a deer that was born to run. Big Cuz is in his prime now and the Pelicans could probably get away with asking him to run up and down for 82 games at max effort for a season or two, but the strategy seems ill-advised for the latter half of his career as a whole. Doesn’t Cousin’s recent sore Achilles seem like a red flag everyone should factor in now?
Then there’s the rest of the roster. I’ve long maintained Jrue Holiday is not a prototypical point guard to play uptempo basketball. As we saw this season, does the team really want to rely on Solomon Hill running downhill at fast speeds and making decisions on the fly? Sorry, no, I just don’t believe the current roster is best utilized for an offense that seeks to do everything quickly and should settle all too often for the first open look.
It is time to find a new coach. Alvin Gentry had a good run in Phoenix, but he has not been so great in New Orleans. With DeMarcus Cousins aboard and a new era in store for the Pelicans, it makes sense to go with a new head coach and start the new epoch of Pelicans basketball with a new coach.
Please, please, please, please, get rid of Alvin Gentry. I really did not like what he did with Buddy Hield while he was still in New Orleans, and I find he does a poor job of setting starting rotations overall. He has had his chances with the Pelicans, so I believe his time here is done. His coaching style, I think, is better suited for college ball, because it would be easier to get the younger players without as many ingrained habits to play at his desired pace.
Wow, what a topic. Viewing the team’s want to keep AD and Cousins in Nola for as long as possible, I'd say get rid of the coach so we can absolutely make sure we've got the right guy in place for those two to flourish. But it's a tough sell in the near-term because it makes the GM/owners look a little trigger-happy, plus they might feel it will add to the list of ex's in Cousins' past... the guy has seen too many coaches come and go for him to feel comfortable anywhere. But, the upside is, again, getting the right guy. The right guy could take the Pels to the Western Conference Finals! I say keep him... but I don't feel good about it.