Suns’ Willie Green hired as new head coach of New Orleans Pelicans

Suns assistant coach Willie Green stands behind head coach Monty Williams during a timeout in their game Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center on December 27, 2020 in Sacramento, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Phoenix Suns assistant coach Willie Green is the new head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans, the team announced Thursday.

Green was reported a few weeks prior as a lead candidate for the job by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

He replaces Stan Van Gundy, who spent just one season at the helm. New Orleans went 31-41 this season and has finished under .500 for three straight years.

Green, 39, had interviewed for the Pelicans, Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards for their head coaching vacancies, per reports.

Green has been a part of head coach Monty Williams’ staff since his arrival to the Valley in 2019, primarily in charge of the team’s defense, which ranked in the top-10 this season for defensive rating. The coaching staff sports an 85-60 record over two regular seasons.

The Suns returned to the playoffs this season, earning an NBA Finals berth and falling to the Milwaukee Bucks.

Before joining Phoenix’s ranks, Green got his coaching start as an assistant to Steve Kerr and the Golden State Warriors in 2016. During his three-year stint with the Warriors, Green was a part of two championship teams.

Green began his NBA career with the Philadelphia 76ers in 2003. He was eventually traded in 2010 to New Orleans, joining the Williams-led Hornets.

He took his talents to the Atlanta Hawks the following season before playing for the Clippers (2012-14) and Magic (2014-15).

Green will have a great opportunity to make things happen for the Pelicans and return to the playoffs as a coach.

New Orleans is led by two young All-Stars, 20-year-old Zion Williamson and 23-year-old Brandon Ingram. Williamson made the team this year after averaging 27.0 points per game while Ingram did the season prior. On top of those two, the Pelicans have Josh Hart, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Jaxson Hayes and Kira Lewis Jr. as other young players on the rise too.

Green has a few vets to work his young roster around as well, with former Sun Eric Bledsoe and center Steven Adams.

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