Jrue Holiday likes what he hears about his new coach, Alvin Gentry.
And the New Orleans Pelicans point guard couldn’t find a more trustworthy source on the matter.
His brother, Golden State Warriors reserve guard Justin Holiday, played under Gentry this season, and they parted ways this summer as NBA champions.
“My brother spoke really highly of him and said that he loves him and he’s someone who really cares about his players and all of that,” Jrue Holiday said. “Obviously, you want that in a coach. You want somebody who can instill a lot of positive feedback into you, and he’s not even with us yet. He was still in the chase for a championship, so I didn’t have a chance to talk to him.”
When Gentry finally had a chance to get a message out to his future Pelicans players — in the Warriors’ celebratory locker room — he called out to superstar Anthony Davis on live television, saying he expects to see him in a championship celebration of his own next year.
It was a message that resonated with Holiday, who is traveling through Canada to watch his wife, Lauren, play for the United States in the Women’s World Cup.
“It was pretty cool that he becomes champion and he’s out there shouting out A.D.,” he said. “It means he’s pretty excited to get with us and get started. It was a lot like what my brother was telling me about him.”
There are some significant differences to note, however, after Gentry’s introductory news conference arrives at 3:30 p.m. Monday.
Gentry is going to be head coach in New Orleans, rather than an assistant in Golden State. And he’ll be relying heavily on former All-Star Jrue Holiday, compared to rookie Justin Holiday, a reserve who didn’t get on the floor during the Warriors’ run to the title.
“I actually spoke to (Justin) about it before we had named him the coach ... but he had me excited about it if it did happen,” Jrue said. “To hear him speak about him in the way he did meant a lot.”
Gentry will take over a roster that returns at least its top six performers, who became locked in for the 2015-16 season after guard Eric Gordon last week decided to opt in for the final year of his contract, adding a dose of continuity before free agency opens July 1.
It’s the type of stability that Holiday said could be pivotal in the Pelicans’ growth from a team chasing a playoff berth into one chasing a championship.
“I think bringing everyone back together is one of the biggest parts of becoming a great team,” he said. “When you look at the teams who are really competing at the top — besides the Cleveland Cavaliers, who pieced it together in one year (after LeBron James’ return) — they’ve all played together for at least a few years. To become a really good team and really know each other like Golden State, you have to play together.
“Those teams have mostly been a group for three-plus years. So I think we’ll make little tweaks here or there, but to have that chemistry and really know each other gives us the opportunity to build off what we did this year in making it to the playoffs. I think it’s going to make us a lot better.”