Is Jeff Van Gundy ready to step away from the microphone and return to coaching?
It appears that way.
Van Gundy met with New Orleans Pelicans officials Tuesday about the team’s head coaching position, according to Yahoo Sports.
Sources close to the search also say that Van Gundy, currently an ESPN television analyst, is interested in the job that has been open since the Pelicans parted ways with Monty Williams on May 12.
The 53-year old Van Gundy, who was previously a head coach with the New York Knicks and the Houston Rockets, last coached in 2007.
In an interview on the Dan Patrick Show Wednesday, Van Gundy was asked if he was ready to return to coaching.
“There are really certain things you can’t replace,” Van Gundy said. “You miss when you’re not coaching. The competition and the camaraderie of being part of the team. As a coach when you’re not coaching, you definitely miss that. It’s irreplaceable. At the same time, I know how good I have it at ESPN. Every coach is always looking for a situation that feels right.”
The Pelicans situation would seem to be one that feels right.
The team is coming off a season when they overcame a slew of injuries to make the Western Conference playoffs as the No. 8 seed.
And making the job even more lucrative is the opportunity to coach forward Anthony Davis, a first-team, All-NBA selection this season after leading the league in blocked shots (2.94 per game) and averaging 24.4 points and 10.2 rebounds.
Thad Foucher, Davis’ agent, made his first comments about the hiring on Wednesday.
“Anthony is leaving all coaching decisions to the Pelicans’ management,” Foucher said.
Patrick asked Van Gundy during Wednesday’s interview if he would like the chance to coach Davis.
“There is no one who has ever coached that wouldn’t want to coach a great player with great character,” Van Gundy said. “I have been able to do that in my life. I have already coached players with great character, so I know how important that is if you want to win big in a situation. I had Patrick Ewing and Yao Ming and (Tracy) McGrady in Houston and (Charles) Oakley (in New York). Anybody who says ‘Nah, that Anthony Davis I wouldn’t want to coach a guy like that who is a top 5 player and a great person.’ I wouldn’t believe it if someone said that.”
Van Gundy is the second coach who has reportedly interviewed for the job. Golden State associate head coach Alvin Gentry reportedly interviewed for the position last week.
Yahoo Sports reported that the Pelicans could possibly meet with Gentry again in the next few days.
Van Gundy is serving as color commentator for the Western Conference finals series between Golden State and Houston and is scheduled to handle the NBA Finals, which begin June 4, as well.
He 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 Knicks to the playoffs six times before resigning in December of 2001.
In 2003, he took over the Rockets and stayed there 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 10 teams to the playoffs.