Jeff Van Gundy was mum on Wednesday afternoon when asked if he was indeed a possible candidate for the Pelicans’ head coaching job.
Yahoo Sports reported on Monday that the Pelicans were interested Van Gundy as a possible replacement for Monty Williams, who was fired last week.
But Van Gundy wouldn’t confirm or deny that report on Wednesday when he and broadcast partner Mark Jackson answered questions on an ESPN conference call.
“I have too much respect for the coaching profession and the sanctity of a job search to publicly to speak about any job openings,” said Van Gundy. “That’s really not my style.”
Van Gundy, 53, currently serves as color commentator for ESPN and hasn’t coached in eight years. But his success as a coach has made him an interesting choice to replace Williams, who was dismissed despite leading the Pelicans to the first round of the playoffs this season.
“I have said many times that I have the utmost respect for Monty Williams,” said Van Gundy. I coached him. I know what a class guy he is. He has integrity and humility. I thought he did an outstanding job. I think he can be very proud of what he accomplished there. As far as the job search, I don’t get into the public domain on that. I just don’t think it’s right.”
Van Gundy previously served as head coach of the New York Knicks and the Houston Rockets, having success at both stops.
Van Gundy took over the Knicks in 1996 and led the team to an improbable run to the NBA Finals in 1999 when they were the No. 8 seed in the East.
He led the team to the playoffs six times before resigning in December of 2001.
In 2003, he took over as coach of the Rockets and stayed their four seasons before being fired in 2007 after the team lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Utah Jazz.
Van Gundy, the brother of Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy, has compiled a 430-318 career mark and had just one losing season.
Not counting the season he resigned from the Knicks, Van Gundy led nine of his teams to the playoffs.
Van Gundy’s broadcast partner Jackson, who coached at Golden State last season, said he hasn’t been contacted by the Pelicans and is enjoying his time on television.
“I am having the time of my life calling these games,” Jackson said. “It was a dream of mine to be a player, to be a coach, to be an announcer. I’m sitting beside friends for over 25 years, guys I respect and love. ESPN and ABC have been great to me. I am really enjoying what I am doing. I have not been contacted.”
Another coach whose name had been associated with the job is apparently not going to be a candidate.
Scott Brooks, who was let go by Oklahoma City at the end of the season, plans to decline interview opportunities with the Pelicans and Denver Nuggets, according to a Yahoo Sports report. Brooks is leaning towards sitting out the 2015-16 season.