Anthony Davis has a new molder. The best young NBA big man this side of Shaquille O’Neal was the best selling point for any free agent coach this offseason, once Davis’ New Orleans Pelicans created an opening by dismissing Monty Williams after five years of service.
Now, Golden State Warriors assistant Alvin Gentry takes Williams’ old job. The former head coach of the Phoenix Suns, Miami Heat, Detroit Pistons and Los Angeles Clippers has been in the league, in one capacity or another, since 1989. One of the shrewdest offensive strategists of today, he propelled the Suns’ seven-seconds-or-less squad to their deepest playoff run, when they came within two games of the Finals in 2010.
Gentry has also been integral to Steve Kerr’s adjustment curve as a rookie head coach for the Warriors, and the advancement of Stephen Curry’s game to an MVP level. Before he takes over in New Orleans, of course, he still has to help his current roster through the 2015 Finals, against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
"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 public statement. His contract is said to be worth $13.7 million, over four years, with a team option in the fourth year.
Whether New Orleans exercises the fourth year, and whether Gentry’s tenure is considered a success, will likely hinge upon how far he can take Davis and Co. into the playoffs. Ownership had made it clear to Williams that his job would not be safe if the Pelicans missed the postseason in 2015, but they fired him even though New Orleans grabbed the eighth spot in the stacked Western Conference.
Clearly, expectations are high for Gentry in his new position — as they should be when Davis, a generational talent, is in tow. Honorable of a job as Williams did, Gentry is by all accounts the right man to take the best young player in the game to the next level. This is going to be fun.
— John Wilmes