The New Orleans Pelicans have hired Alvin Gentry to be their next head basketball coach, inking him to a four-year deal worth $13.7 million.
Gentry, 60, has coached in the NBA in some form or fashion since 1989. He’s a good coach. He’s an accomplished coach.
Still, Brandon Tierney couldn’t help but wonder one thing: What happened to Tom Thibodeau?
“Thibs is probably a lot more expensive,” Yahoo! Sports NBA writer Marc Spears said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I’m a big-time Alvin Gentry fan. I disagree on whether I think he’s a good fit or not. I think he’s a fantastic fit for them. I think he’s paid his dues. Again, he has head-coaching experience. I mean, look, there’s a long list of guys that you could get, but I like Thibs and I like Gentry. I think they’re fine. I mean, you can’t pick everybody. You got to pick someone.”
Gentry served as associate head coach for the Golden State Warriors under Steve Kerr this season. He was most recently a head coach in Phoenix from 2009 to 2013.
“I do think his offensive mind – his ability to relate with players – is really great,” Spears said. “They’ll run through a wall for him, and I think with a young group of guys that haven’t been there, I think you got to be a different kind of coach now than when I was coming up. I was a college basketball player. I think in our era you could yell at us a lot more to get what you need out of us, whereas this generation – I think you got to kind of be part uncle, part comedian, part motivational speaker, part preacher. And I know Alvin can do that and get the most out of them.”
Gentry, an offensive-minded coach, is an X’s-and-O’s guru who likes to play with tempo. That should be a welcome change for the Pelicans, whose grind-it-out pace was good enough to make the playoffs this season but not enough to get a playoff win, albeit against the Finals-bound Warriors.
Still, Spears thought that 2014-15 was a step in the right direction for New Orleans, which “wouldn’t have sniffed the playoffs” had Oklahoma City not suffered injuries to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, among others.
Spears believes Gentry’s most important tasks, in no particular order, will be getting Jrue Holliday to play like the All-Star he was in 2013, maximizing the play of Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon, and helping Anthony Davis develop a post game.
“I know he relies on his jumper a lot and he’s great taking the ball to the hole from the drive,” Spears said of Davis. “But man, maybe this goes back to talking that old-school stuff again. I think when you’re 6-11 and you can jump like he jumps and you’re so long and you got plastic-man arms, if you get any kind of little jump hook or any kind of post game – once he gets that, this dude could perhaps be the best player in the game. He is an amazing player and he still has a lot of room to grow. So I’m sure from an offensive standpoint, Alvin can help him get there.”