The New Orleans Pelicans have fired coach Stan Van Gundy after just one season. The Pelicans missed the play-in tournament by two games and won one more game than they did the previous season, despite the fact that they had a mostly healthy Zion Williamson. This seems to signal that the Pelicans are taking the Zion Williamson window very seriously, as they should. Now they just need to make the right hire and build a winner before Zion leaves.
Zion Williamson averaged 27 points, 7 rebounds and 3.7 assists this season while shooting 61 percent from the field. He played in 61 games and looked like every bit of the dominant player everyone thought and hoped he could be before fracturing his finger with six games remaining in the regular season. By firing Van Gundy, the clear message to whoever they hire is WIN NOW.
Williamson has three years remaining on his rookie deal and just two years until he can sign that first max extension. Could he do what Luka Doncic isn't and become the first person to turn that down? It seems unlikely, but until the Pelicans start winning, we have to wonder. And until he actually signs it, there will be speculation.
So priority number one is obviously finding a coach that can make things work. Then it's time to build the team. They have a boatload of draft picks over the next few. years thanks to the Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday trades, but the Lakers and Bucks don't appear to be in any position to fall into the lottery anytime soon. Still, it's nice to be able to say you have them.
The Pelicans are in a tough spot. The franchise, going back to their time as the Hornets, has drafted Chris Paul and Anthony Davis, who they had to trade. They need to do whatever they can to stop that from happening for a third time.
They only made the playoffs three times in six seasons with Paul and two times in seven seasons with Davis.
They're already 0-for-2 with Zion. They have to do something before they're 0-for-3 with superstars.