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Grading the assistant coaching changes to Alvin Gentry’s staff on the New Orleans Pelicans

Do you think Chris Finch and potential Sam Mitchell hires can move the needle?

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Are you excited by the change(s) in the coaching staff — the Chris Finch hire and/or potential Sam Mitchell addition? Why or why not?

Jason: I am happy that the Pelicans’ front office is doing something this off-season. They seemed to postpone any Pelicans’ related activities, like confirming whether Dell Demps and Alvin Gentry still had jobs, until after the NFL Draft was said and done. So, for the Pelicans to go out and actively look to improve the team is great to hear.

In all seriousness, I do like the selections that the team has made to replace, err… I mean assist Gentry. How can one not be excited by an injection of more motion into the Pelicans rather stagnate offense? Chris Finch helped develop one of the league’s best offenses which was based around a big man and on a team comparable in terms of talent to the Pelicans’ current roster. Finch watched Nikola Jokic develop into one of the premier passers in the league, and I hope he can help Anthony Davis change into a capable passer — one of the few flaws in his game.

NBA: Preseason-Miami Heat at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

With the potential Sam Mitchell hiring, it’s less about his ability to run a team and more about his history in player development with Kevin Garnett (who AD drew plenty of comparisons to before entering the league), Chris Bosh and KAT. If Mitchell can instill the killer attitude that KG had into AD and help Demarcus Cousins further utilize his passion, then I will be a happy guy!

Kevin: I'm not going to pretend to be someone that really knows a lot about assistants around the league. When Chris Finch was announced my immediate thought was, "didn't Denver trade Jusuf Nurkic because they couldn't make him and Jokic work together?"

However, I immediately started to do my research and learned that he is credited as the architect of the Nuggets offense that put the ball in Jokic's hands as the primary playmaker. This excited me. It came on the heels of me writing a piece on doing just that with DeMarcus Cousins to make the Davis pairing work — which you can read here.

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Denver had stiffs at point guard and still had an incredibly potent offense because of Jokic's passing abilities. If the Pels lose Jrue Holiday — whose playmaking abilities have been questioned of late as well — having Finch tailor the offense around Boogie as the primary point makes so much sense.

This move also indicated to me that while Alvin Gentry's job is safe, he's been neutered. His scheme doesn't work with this roster and the front office found a guy that could build an offense around the players we have.

I'm all in on Finch...Sam Mitchell, not so much. I just didn't see the need. We are already being run like a NFL team with an offensive and defensive coordinator under a head coach — now we muddled it all up with another coach with an unclear role and questionable track record. I'd rather have seen them add a recently retired player to serve as that bridge between staff and players. However, with Finch and Erman really running things, I don't think Mitchell is that impactful either way. So, no harm, no foul, I guess.

Jamile: I wouldn't quite say excited. Intrigued would be a more accurate way to describe my feelings on the coaching staff shake up. I do think it is good to bring in some fresh minds to work with this roster. Since the Pelicans have precious little flexibility this summer to make personnel changes, an upgrade to the coaching staff seems like a reasonable move. Now the question is, are these really upgrades?

Chris Finch comes with a strong reputation in the association as an offensive innovator and showed in his time with the Denver Nuggets that he can help build an offense around a dominant big man. He'll have two to work with in Nola so lets hope that reputation is more than just hot air.

Sam Mitchell, on the other hand, doesn't have the best reputation as a basketball mind, but does have a knack for relating to players. I view Mitchell as the "Boogie Bridge" between Cousins and the coaching staff. So, while Mitchell doesn't really get the people going, he does serve an obvious purpose on the staff.

San Antonio Spurs v Phoenix Suns Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

David: The addition of Chris Finch is wonderful. It shows that Alvin Gentry is aware of the problems on offense and is going outside of the seven seconds or less circle to try to find answers. Phil Weber was a link back to the D'Antoni bench in Phoenix and Gentry's willingness to accept new ideas and approaches should not be discounted.

As for Sam Mitchell, I am not at all excited. Mitchell is the first Gentry assistant to have NBA head coaching experience and his place on the bench is obvious. He's the "Interim Head Coach in waiting" should Gentry and Demps get canned mid-season. Mitchell's last head coaching stint, with the young Timberwolves after the passing of Flip Saunders for the 2015-16 season, does not inspire much confidence.

Oleh: It’s hard to disagree with the changes among the coaching staff. Injuries or not, two straight seasons under Alvin Gentry have been marked by a lot of disappointment, especially the surprisingly sluggish offensive output, so one has to at least feel appeased by the upgrades.

Everyone is focused on Finch’s work in Denver, but I’m very eager to see what he can do with the New Orleans backcourt. While in Houston, he was tasked with both helping James Harden learn how to read defenses and teach Jeremy Lin on how to play without the ball. If Jrue Holiday returns, great, Finch will get a chance to help the embattled point guard find his way with two superstars on the floor. If not, it’ll improve the odds of the Pelicans offense being successful without a pass-first point guard should the situation arise.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

As I wrote yesterday, I can see a place for Sam Mitchell on the bench. An old school mind who once played in the league just might be the key to helping the Pelicans improve their fundamentals and maybe prepare them to be tougher mentally in clutch situations. And with Kevin Garnett just a phone call away, expert tutelage available for Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins at the drop of a hat sounds like a damn good idea.

Ryan: I think the Chris Finch signing will be great for the Pelicans. It looks like New Orleans is going to be revamping their offense, which is what is needed. Finch was involved with a good system in Denver and it will be great to see him implement parts of it here in New Orleans. Unfortunately, the Sam Mitchell addition does not do much for me, nor the Pelicans for that matter.