Alvin Gentry won’t join Pelicans until after NBA Finals; Gentry says he’s ‘truly honored for the opportunity’ _lowres

Phoenix Suns head coach Alvin Gentry argues a call during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Charlotte Bobcats in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

The New Orleans Pelicans officially announced Alvin Gentry as the team’s new head coach late Saturday night but, as Gentry is quick to point out, there is still other business to attend to before he starts his new job.

Gentry, associate head coach for the Golden State Warriors, won’t begin his new job until his team’s stint in the NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers ends. The series begins Thursday; it could end as early as June 11 or extend as late as June 19.

“I’m truly honored for the opportunity to lead the Pelicans as their head coach and am anxious to get started,” Gentry said in a statement released by the Pelicans. “However, my responsibilities with the Pelicans will begin immediately after the NBA Finals are completed. Until then, my complete focus for the next two-plus weeks will be with the Warriors and the NBA Finals. We’ve had an incredible season under Steve Kerr’s leadership in the Bay Area, but still have a lot of work to do as we prepare for the Cavaliers and a tough series.”

Pelicans general manager Dell Demps announced the hiring late Saturday night, several hours after sources confirmed to The Advocate that Gentry would be the next head coach. Terms of his contract were not released; Yahoo Sports reported that Gentry will sign a four-year deal worth $13.75 million. He was the NBA’s highest-paid assistant coach this season.

Gentry, 60, becomes the franchise’s sixth head coach. He replaces Monty Williams, who was fired May 12 after five seasons.

“After assessing our team, along with the core values of the Pelicans, we created a list of characteristics and qualities we wanted in our head coach,” Demps said in a statement. “We conducted an extensive coaching search that identified Alvin Gentry as the right person to lead our team.”

Most of the Pelicans players haven’t made any comments about the hire, but guard Eric Gordon took to Twitter to express his satisfaction.

“Proud of the strides our team took this season. Looking forward to working with Alvin Gentry and continuing to build a winner here in NOLA!” he tweeted.

The Pelicans reached the first round of the Western Conference playoffs this season, where they were swept by Golden State. It was their first trip to the playoffs since 2011.

Demps is hoping Gentry can take the team even farther as he brings what should be a more exciting brand of basketball to the Smoothie King Center.

“Alvin is a well-respected coach that brings many years of experience, a wealth of knowledge, creativity and leadership,” Demps said in a statement. “Alvin and I have a shared vision, and we look forward to working together in achieving sustained success for Pelican fans and the New Orleans community.”

Gentry has a 335-370 career record as head coach in stops with Miami, Detroit, the Los Angeles Clippers and Phoenix. He is 12-9 in the postseason, including taking the Suns to the Western Conference finals in 2010, where they lost to the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers.

He is now four wins away from helping the Warriors win an NBA title before heading to New Orleans. The Pelicans’ gain is a loss for Golden State, first-year Warriors coach Steve Kerr said in a statement.

“He’s had a tremendous impact on the success of our team this season and, personally, has been instrumental in my development as a coach,” Kerr said. “His experience as a head coach in the NBA has been invaluable during my first season and will, likewise, serve the Pelicans well as they move forward.”