Stan Van Gundy recently addressed the notion that any New Orleans Pelicans player was responsible for his exit last month after just one season in charge.
The 61-year-old directly addressed the rumors that Zion Williamson didn’t want him to be the franchise’s head coach and said on the “STUpodity” podcast:
“Front offices and owners make decisions and they’re the ones that decide to fire people, and that shouldn’t ever, ever, ever be placed on players. I know this, regardless of what happened in that regard, Zion’s no coach killer.
“He’s a guy who is gonna help you win a lot of games. He plays the game the right way … I’m happy with what we did with Zion. I think we helped him. How anyone else felt about that would be up to them.”
Following Van Gundy’s departure, it was reported that Williams and his family members were unhappy with the Pelicans and Van Gundy. Williamson’s family reportedly considered the bench boss “too rigid and demanding.”
Van Gundy claims he was never made aware of those alleged frustrations, saying, “If they were unhappy, I didn’t hear about it.”
He added: “Zion was unhappy with us not winning more games. But Zion ever expressed to me any of that. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t unhappy. I don’t know. It’s possible they were unhappy with me, and that was part of what led to the change.”
Van Gundy replaced Alvin Gentry as head coach of the Pelicans in October. He led New Orleans to a 31-41 record, resulting in the team missing the playoffs for the third consecutive season.
Williamson is expected to be involved in the coaching search, with the franchise now looking for its third bench boss in three seasons. Milwaukee Bucks assistant Charles Lee and Pelicans assistants Teresa Weatherspoon and Fred Vinson are reportedly considered candidates for the vacancy.