Newly hired New Orleans Pelicans Coach Alvin Gentry may be preparing for the NBA Finals, but that hasn’t stopped him from putting his staff together.
Darren Erman will become the team’s associate head coach in charge of the defense, while New Orleans native Robert Pack will serve as a backcourt specialist, league sources confirmed to The Advocate on Tuesday.
The Pelicans have not yet made the hirings official; Gentry, who is remaining with Golden State through the Finals, was unavailable for comment.
But Yahoo Sports reported Tuesday that Erman has informed the Boston Celtics, with whom he served as an assistant last season, that he would be coming to New Orleans.
Pack was not retained by Oklahoma City after Billy Donovan replaced Scott Brooks as coach of the Thunder.
The hiring of Erman would give the Pelicans a defensive counterpart to the offensive expertise of Gentry, who helped form Golden State into the league’s top offensive team this season.
“Everybody calls (Erman) ‘a young Thibs,’ ” a league source said after Tom Thibodeau, the recently fired Chicago Bulls coach who is widely considered the game’s top defensive mind and with whom Erman worked during an earlier stint with the Celtics. “He’ll give the Pelicans a top-notch defensive presence.”
Erman gained unwanted notoriety late in the 2014 season when he was fired by then-Warriors coach Mark Jackson for what was termed “a violation of company policy.” It was later revealed that Erman had been secretly recording conversations among the coaches and with the players.
After his firing, Jackson said of Erman in a radio interview, “You have to pick people who are loyal and dedicated. It’s inexcusable what he did. That cannot be tolerated.”
Despite the firing, Erman was quickly hired by the Celtics as their director of college scouting. In July, when Boston defensive coordinator Ron Adams moved to Golden State, Erman was moved to the Celtics bench.
“Darren’s really a great defensive coach,” Boston coach Brad Stevens told the Boston Globe last October. “But he’s more than that. He is as detail-oriented as detail-oriented gets. ... He’s really studied the game, and I think that adds another good, young, ambitious guy that’s really excited to help these guys get better.”
A Pelicans source said the team considered Erman’s actions while with the Warriors as a “regrettable mistake for which he’s paid the price and learned from it.”
Erman had joined Jackson’s staff at Golden State in 2011-12 and helped improve the team’s defensive efficiency from No. 25 in the league to No. 13 before climbing all the way to No. 3 before his release.
Under Doc Rivers in Boston, Erman helped direct a defense that finished in the top two in defensive efficiency three times over a four-year span.
“Darren’s like the most annoying person ever,” Celtics guard Evan Turner told the Boston Herald in January. “He’ll hunt you down to do whatever he thinks you should do.”
Pack, who prepped at Lawless, was on the staff at Oklahoma City for the past two seasons after earlier stints with the then-Hornets (2009-10) and Los Angeles Clippers.
An undrafted guard out of Southern California, he lasted 13 seasons in the NBA with nine teams, including the Hornets in 2002.