The New Orleans Pelicans officially introduced the franchise’s new head coach Stan Van Gundy on Tuesday.
Team owner Gayle Benson, executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin, general manager Trajan Langdon and head coach Van Gundy were present for the virtual press conference.
Benson spoke about the hiring of Van Gundy to open the press conference before the Pelicans new head coach answered reporters’ questions about the hiring process, his new role and his thoughts on this year’s team.
“We were purposeful and got the coach we wanted,” Benson said.
New Orleans spent over two months after the dismissal of former head coach Alvin Gentry to officially hire Van Gundy.
Griffin talked about the hiring process for the position. He said the organization interviewed nine people and explained why it took them over two months to come to a decision.
“We set a very clear criteria for what we were seeking in the next head coach,” Griffin said. “We took a great deal of time to do that. The reasons for that were multifold and one of them was we wanted to take enough time to really analyze our team, get a feel for who we felt like we really were and do that without the sting of what had just happened in the bubble resonating daily with us.”
Griffin says the team discovered Van Gundy is a coach that has proven he is going to win “an awful lot of regular season games.”
He went on to say Van Gundy is a “proven winner” and “a coach that can win right now.”
Van Gundy then thanked the entire Pelicans front office for the opportunity to be the next head coach.
“I was really enjoying being a TV analyst,” Van Gundy said. “I wanted to coach again but only if we could find an absolutely great opportunity and New Orleans had it all.”
Van Gundy called the team’s roster a “mix of very talented young players and some productive, high character veterans.”
He said he has spoken to all the players trying to get to know them. Van Gundy also mentioned he is in the process of filling out the coaching staff.
Van Gundy discussed the team’s youth but said he does not want them to use that as an excuse.
The Pelicans had 11 players who were 25 years old or younger last season.
Van Gundy touched on how the team can improve moving forward.
“I think it’s clear just by the numbers where this team has to get better is at the defensive end of the floor,” Van Gundy said. “We’re going to have to make a real commitment on that end.”
From a coaching point of view, Van Gundy mentions the commitment comes from teaching and understanding what the plan is on that side of the floor.
“From a player’s point of view, the players are going to have to make the commitment that if we want to win at a high level in a very, very talented Western Conference then we are going to have to be a very good defensive team,” Van Gundy said. “It’s all of us having to make that commitment to get better on that end.”
Van Gundy shared his beliefs on building a culture within a team. He said “it was very little to do with what you say and it has everything to do with what you do on a everyday basis.”
He also says what the culture ends up becoming is about “what our best players decide that it’s going to be.”
Langdon discussed what he liked in Van Gundy when the team was searching for a new head coach.
“It’s just his passion about the game of basketball,” Langdon said. “He was still looking for ways to get better as a coach [during his time out]. I am really excited to have Stan with us and to be able to learn from him in these years moving forward.”