NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The New Orleans Pelicans have interviewed Jeff Van Gundy for the club's vacant head coaching job, according to a person familiar with the situation.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the Pelicans have not disclosed any candidates they've interviewed to succeed Monty Williams, who was fired May 12.
Yahoo Sports first reported Van Gundy's interview with New Orleans on Wednesday in the San Francisco area, where Van Gundy, currently working as a television analyst, traveled for a playoff game between Golden State and Houston.
Van Gundy has a 430-318 record in 10-plus seasons with the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr has confirmed that his assistant, former NBA head coach Alvin Gentry, also has interviewed with New Orleans.
While being interviewed on "The Dan Patrick Show" earlier Wednesday, Van Gundy declined to discuss his involvement in the Pelicans' coaching search, but did not deny his interest in coaching a player such as Anthony Davis, who is already a two-time All-Star at age 22.
"There is no one who ever coached that wouldn't want to coach a great player with great character," said Van Gundy, who coached Patrick Ewing with Knicks. "You know how important that is if you want to win big."
Van Gundy was an assistant on Rick Pitino's Providence team that went to the 1987 Final Four in New Orleans, and first became an NBA head coach in March 1996 with the Knicks, who promoted him from an assistant position after the firing of then-head coach Don Nelson.
Four seasons later, Van Gundy coached the Knicks to the 1999 NBA Finals. Van Gundy resigned from the Knicks early in the 2001-02 season, then became head coach of the Houston Rockets from 2003-2007.
Williams coached in New Orleans for five seasons, compiling a record of 173-221, with two playoff appearances since landing his first heading coaching job with the Pelicans in 2010.
New Orleans went 45-37 this season, narrowly edging out Oklahoma City for the Western Conference's final postseason berth before being swept by Golden State in the opening round off the playoffs.
The Pelicans' head coaching vacancy is much different now than when Williams got the job.
Williams was hired while franchise founder George Shinn was trying to sell the club and All-Star guard Chris Paul was trying to force a trade — which he eventually did, to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Now the Pelicans are owned by billionaire Tom Benson, who also owns the NFL's New Orleans Saints, and who has built a new practice headquarters for the Pelicans next to that of his football team.
There is also the draw of coaching Davis, who averaged 24.4 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.9 blocks this season, his third as a pro.
Still, the Pelicans will want to hire a coach capable of winning approval from Davis, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract before he becomes a restricted free agent. He can sign an extension as early as July, but also could choose to wait until next offseason and opt for a deal that would make him a free agent as early as 2017.
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Posted on Thu, May 28, 2015
by BRETT MARTEL, AP Sports Writer