For Alvin Gentry, it likely will go down as one of the most memorable weeks of his 60-year-old basketball life.
Gentry was selected to be the New Orleans Pelicans’ next coach Saturday, sources told The Advocate. The team confirmed the hire with a news release late Saturday night.
The move came just five days before Gentry, an associate head coach with Golden State, will help lead the Warriors into the NBA Finals on Thursday against Cleveland.
Once that series concludes, he’ll begin his duties as Pelicans coach, replacing Monty Williams, who was fired May 12 after five seasons.
Pelicans officials chose Gentry hoping he can bring the same up-tempo style to the Big Easy that he has installed everywhere else he has coached.
He’ll depart a Golden State team with the NBA MVP (guard Stephen Curry) for a team that many people think has a potential future MVP, forward Anthony Davis.
The Pelicans made the hire after interviewing several other candidates, including former NBA coaches Jeff Van Gundy, Vinny Del Negro and current Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg.
It will be the fifth head coaching job for Gentry, whose most recent job was with the Phoenix Suns from 2008-13. He also had head coaching stints with the Los Angeles Clippers, the Detroit Pistons and the Miami Heat.
Gentry had expressed in an interview earlier in May that he’d someday like to become a head coach again.
“But it would have to be a special situation for me to leave (Golden State),” he told the San Jose Mercury News.
The right situation will be coaching a team whose centerpiece is Davis, a first-team all-NBA selection this year.
Gentry has been a key part of Golden State’s success this season under Kerr, who became a head coach for the first time this year.
Kerr leaned heavily on Gentry for advice during the season, especially about running the offense.
Golden State posted the league’s best record this season and led the NBA in scoring (110.0 points per game). That’s been a staple for Gentry in recent years.
Gentry was the top assistant with the Los Angeles Clippers last season, and they led the league in scoring as well (107.9).
In Gentry’s first season as head coach in Phoenix, his team led the NBA in points (110.2), field-goal percentage (.492) and 3-point percentage (.412).
His up-tempo style could bring plenty of excitement for Pelicans fans who were accustomed to seeing a more methodical offense under the defensive-minded Williams. Williams led the Pelicans to the first round of the Western Conference playoffs before they were swept by Golden State.
The Pelicans finished a middle-of-the-pack 16th in the league in scoring this season at 99.4 points per game. The team ranked 27th in tempo.
The offense also could help Davis put up even bigger numbers than the 24.4 points he averaged this season.
That could go a long way in perhaps keeping Davis in New Orleans once he becomes a restricted free agent at the end of next season.
While Gentry’s teams have typically been stellar offensively, it hasn’t always reflected in the won-loss column. He is 335-370 as a head coach, with his most successful run coming in Phoenix.
In his five seasons in Phoenix, his teams went 158-144, including a trip to the Western Conference finals in 2010 when the Suns lost to the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers.
But his coaching history goes back much farther. It began as a college assistant in 1980, before any player on the Pelicans’ current roster was even born.
He’s coached under highly successful coaches like Larry Brown and Gregg Popovich.
Gentry will become the Hornets/Pelicans’ sixth coach, following Paul Silas, Tim Floyd, Byron Scott, Jeff Bower and Williams.
It would also be Gentry’s second stop in New Orleans. He was an assistant for the then-Hornets under Floyd in the 2003-04 season; that team finished 41-41 and lost in the first round of the playoffs.