Lewis: Lots of guys could have been the ‘right’ coach for the Pelicans, but Alvin Gentry was the way to go _lowres

Alvin Gentry (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Yeah, we know.

Alvin Gentry’s already had four shots at being an NBA head coach.

Alvin Gentry’s record as a head coach is 335-370.

Alvin Gentry knows nothing but offense.

Alvin Gentry is 60.

So what?

When all is said and done, when Dell Demps had considered everyone on his list of possibilities to be the next head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans, he determined Alvin Gentry was the way to go.

Good call.

Why, you ask of the person who has earlier pushed John Calipari and Tom Thibodeau for the job?

Well, do you like the way Golden State plays? Who doesn’t?

What you see is in large part because of Gentry’s role as offensive coordinator under rookie head coach Steve Kerr. The Warriors led the NBA in scoring this season along with being No. 1 field goal percentage and assists.

And, by the way, after having the league’s best record this season, Golden State is in the Finals for the first time in 39 years.

Game One against Cleveland is Thursday. That’ll be Gentry sitting besides Kerr, consulting on which plays to run, substitution patterns and timeouts.

Can Gentry get the Pelicans that far for the first time? Probably not next season. The Western Conference is too tough — unfortunately, Gentry can’t bring Stephen Curry with him — and the Pels still have a lot of building to do.

But give Gentry time — time to continue the development of Anthony Davis’s generational abilities; time to develop the up-tempo, ball movement offense it takes to succeed these days; and time to fashion a deep roster of players who want to be a part of where AD can take them. Then, you’ve got something.

And you’ve got exactly the kind of team Demps has outlined he wants, which is his call.

So is developing the roster. Obviously Gentry will have a say, but his responsibility will be what happens on the court.

Mickey Loomis may downplay his role as executive vice president of basketball operations, but he has made it clear that he wants an organizational structure where the coach reports to the general manager, who reports to him — and that the GM makes the personnel calls.

Jeff Van Gundy would have wanted a setup like his brother, Stan, has in Detroit, where he is over the GM. Thibodeau would have too, for that matter.

The firing of Monty Williams happened primarily because there were conflicts about the lines of authority, and Demps won out. Nobody wants to go through that situation again, and Gentry isn’t the kind of coach who needs roster control to be happy.

That’s not to say the 26-year NBA coaching veteran is a total go-along, get-along guy whom Demps will dominate because Gentry wants the job so badly.

He has said he would be “extremely happy” to remain with the Warriors, where he is the highest-paid assistant in the league. But he sees the Pels as the ideal spot to take one last good shot at winning it all.

And win or lose, wherever Gentry has been, everyone in the organization has loved him because of his open, friendly personality. That especially includes the players.

“It’s about his spirit and his energy and his humor,” said Kerr, who pried Gentry from the Los Angeles Clippers. “The guys love him. They laugh at him, and they laugh with him. We all laugh at each other. Alvin’s got the most infectious smile and laugh.”

And with the Pelicans, priority No. 1 for the new coach is developing the personal and professional relationship with Davis that will help persuade AD that New Orleans is the place where he can compete for a championship.

Rest assured that a Gentry-coached team would make Davis the focal point of the offense while also getting the attack in gear much quicker than it was under Williams (the Pelicans were 27th in pace this season) and using a still-young roster to force the tempo.

That doesn’t mean Davis will sign the max contract offer the team will make to him July 1. But it is a big plus in the Pels’ favor.

As for defense, Gentry has come a long ways from the 7-seconds-or-less style he inherited from Mike D’Antoni in Phoenix. And he’s smart enough to have a top-notch defensive assistant, and the Warriors have that guy in Ron Adams.

That’s the clincher.

Gentry will put all of the things he has learned in a lifetime of basketball — going back to playing for Press Maravich at Appalachian State — into succeeding with the Pelicans.

Demps has done his due diligence in making his first coaching hire. His job is on the line with this one.

There were a lot of big-time names out there. Several of them would have been the “right” call.

In the end, Demps went with the one he felt the most comfortable with.

So, from the Pels’ point of view, it was the best one.