New Orleans Pelicans coach Monty Williams said after Tuesday’s practice that he has not had talks with team management about a contract extension.
The Pelicans are 39-34 as they enter a three-game road trip that begins Wednesday at the Los Angeles Lakers. They are 2½ games behind the Oklahoma City Thunder for the Western Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot with nine games to go.
A winning record and a playoff spot would be the franchise’s first since 2010-11; that was Williams’ first season, when he had point guard Chris Paul and power forward David West, both All-Stars.
“One of our goals this year was to have a winning record, and we want badly to make the playoffs,” said Williams, who will have one year on his contract when this season ends. “We have a chance to do both, so I would say we’ve come a long way.”
Williams pointed to the direction the team is headed in the face of injuries to point guard Jrue Holiday and forward Ryan Anderson for the second consecutive season.
“Look at the improvement we’ve made,” Williams said. “We (had) 34 wins last year. We’ve overcome a lot. I don’t think our guys get enough credit for what they’ve been able to do under some weird circumstances. We’ll see how we finish up.”
Reports have indicated that Pelicans executive vice president Mickey Loomis wants to evaluate Williams and General Manager Dell Demps after the season. Demps’ deal ends at the end of this season, but the Pelicans have an option to retain him for another year. Demps did not respond to calls and text messages seeking comment.
Williams was hired by former general manager Jeff Bower on July 7, 2012. Demps was hired two weeks later — after Bower had been fired. Both played briefly with the San Antonio Spurs.
Williams and Demps received their current extensions Aug. 18, 2012. After that season ended with a 27-55 record but the team having rid itself of big contracts, Loomis said, “We absolutely have the right general manager, and we absolutely have the right coach.”
After the trade of Paul at the beginning of the 2011-12 season, New Orleans has failed to have a winning record. Last season, when Holiday and guard/forward Tyreke Evans were brought in, the team was expected to end the drought. But Holiday, Anderson and starting center Jason Smith were lost for more than half the season with injuries.
This season, Holiday has been out since Jan. 12 and Anderson has been sidelined since Feb. 21, although he is expected to play during the upcoming road trip.
Under Williams and his staff, power forward Anthony Davis, the first player selected in the 2012 draft, has developed into a first-team All-Star and one of the best players in the league.