Pelicans need to explore Calipari option


VIDEO: Should Anthony Davis sign an extension with the Pelicans this summer?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — This parting of the ways between coach and franchise is not about Monty Williams and the job he did or did not do as coach of the New Orleans Pelicans.

No offense to the coach, dumped this afternoon after five years on the job, but this is about Anthony Davis.

Anthony Davis … the recent past, present and future of the franchise.

And in order to secure a shared future, the Pelicans have to spend the next few days carefully examining their options to replace Williams. That coaching search has to begin in the same place Davis rose to stardom, Lexington, Kentucky. That’s where John Calipari has continued his burger All-American-to-UK-to-the-NBA pipeline since Davis helped the Wildcats to a national championship in his only season on campus.

The first call needs to be to Calipari, an ambitious sort who has coached as many (current and future) NBA players the past few years as just about anyone collecting a NBA paycheck these days. If his relationship to Davis and so many other of the NBA’s stars, young and otherwise, is as rich as advertised, perhaps he can be the key to the Pelicans keeping Davis in the fold for years to come. There is the pesky detail of that five-year contract extension Davis can sign this summer to think about when finding the replacement for Williams.

Pelicans general manager Dell Demps knows it. The Benson family knows it. The entire city of New Orleans and Pelicans fans around the globe know it.

They have all experienced the pain of a losing a transcendent franchise player before (Chris Paul, anyone?), and what could be more painful than watching Paul and his new team, the Los Angeles Clippers, on the cusp of making franchise history by making the Western Conference finals, than having to announce that they are searching for direction once again by firing Williams and hunting for his replacement?

It’s hard for me to blame Williams for the Pelicans’ struggles during his tenure. Sure, he leaves with ownership of whatever shortcomings he had as a coach. And like every one of his (former and future) peers, he walked into the job knowing that he’d be tossed out the door at some point. Nothing lasts forever these days, unless your name is Gregg Popovich.

I understand what this season meant for Williams, Davis and the Pelicans. I was there courtside for that unbelievable win over Pop’s Spurs in the regular season finale for both teams. That was the game that secured the playoff fate for the Pelicans and Spurs, entry for the Pelicans and that early exit for the Spurs, courtesy of the seeding free-fall the loss produced.

The emotion coursing through Williams and his family as the postgame celebration commenced was impossible to ignore. Williams had grown tired of the criticism, the second-guessing and the whispers he and his family had to endure in New Orleans. That moment of triumph will never be erased. But it was buttressed by the reality of his situation. A first round sweep at the hands of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and the Golden State Warriors would likely mean he’d coached his last game as the Pelicans’ coach.

That reality came to fruition this afternoon and now the Pelicans have to decide if they are ready for the regime change that would come with a coach like Calipari, or if Demps and the current brain trust want to retain control.

They’ll say all the right things and promise to do what is in the best interest of the franchise going forward, standard fare for these sorts of things.

But if the best thing does not jive with the wishes of Davis, the 21-year-old wunderkind who could one day soon be the face of the NBA, something has gone terribly wrong.

Rarely do I advocate for a franchise bowing down to their star player in these sort of situations. This is that rare exception where genuflection to the wishes of your best player makes more sense than any fragile attempt to maintain some semblance of control of the situation. Don’t let pride or ego get in the way of doing the right thing by Davis, and in turn the entire organization and its fans.

Yes, it’s a dangerous way of doing business if your franchise is not rooted in a championship culture that can withstand the pressures of the moment.

Think back to the beginning of the end for Paul in New Orleans. Byron Scott was dumped as coach without anyone consulting with the franchise player. It was a move dismissed by many, at the time, as something Paul would get over.

He did.

Elsewhere.

The Pelicans have to make sure Davis doesn’t follow that same script. Doing so means at least exploring whatever possibilities might be there with Calipari.

You have to at least poke those tires, make Calipari tell you he is not interested, and then move on to the next phase of the process.

21 Comments

  1. Steve Warren says:

    I think he should have kept his job. & I hope they don’t talk to David and he leavesn States but he made changes. He was a a very good coach and the series against Golden State. He was making changes and he did they play Golden State very well he just did not have the horses. But most of their players stay in her all season long and to the playoffs. but I hope they don’t talk Davis and then he leaves. Its the same thing that they did with Chris Paul they didn’t talk to him then consult him and he left

  2. Badboybuck says:

    The pels made the mistake of firing williams, now you have to make it right. 1 fire dell demps to keep your players. 2 Hire Mark Jackson but not as coach but as GM. 3 Then hire Calipari, Brooks, or Thibedoux to coach the players. The team has the money it has al.ost the complete roster just go add the right bench players and get asik to get off her rear and play. And get ready for Ben Simmons next draft season.

  3. harriethehawk says:

    I don’t think it’s a good idea for Scotty Brooks to coach the Pelicans. No future there. Anthony Davis, like Kevin Durant isn’t staying there. He should go to Orlando to develop growing players.

  4. kenneth says:

    It’s pretty sad that they finally make the playoffs and they fire their coach theirs not that many coaches available anymore that want to coach in the NBA they rather stay in college. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of these teams go after mike Malone he did great in the beginning of the season for the kings their front office is what fired him that and the team couldn’t win without cousins plus you get Malone there’s a chance boogie follows. Hate to see him go cause I’m a kings fan but it will probably lying happen anyway sometime

  5. taekayo says:

    Now even if Brooks got fired recently, he’s still luckier that OKC stuck with him during KD and Russ’ “growing years”. Truth is, the Pelicans doesn’t have that much of a line-up to really make a deep push in the very competitive west. And the lure of franchises such as the Lakers (after Kobe retires), Boston, and other big market teams are really to hard to fight against. I do hope the Pelicans do make a very wise decision regarding getting a new coach. Of course, Sloan would always be on top of my list (since Pop and Phil aren’t available). Then there’s Mark Jackson, who transformed the whole GS culture to buying into defense.

    But Davis’ fate is in his hands. Unless they transform the Pelicans into the Spurs in 2 years, they would never ever secure him.

  6. Indiana'sownLarryBird says:

    Calipari why leave Kentucky were your winning, to go to Pelicans ???

  7. blackeyedpea says:

    Anthony Davis would be best suited to San Antonio.

  8. Hasani Din says:

    No one mentions Scotty Brooks??

  9. Jackson says:

    Why not wait for Thibbs to get cut from Chicago. With defenders like Davis and Asik plus some quick and athletic wings, the pelicans could be the Grizzlys 2.0 with Thibbs on the sideline.

  10. Andre Windmon says:

    Scott Brooks????

  11. lbj says:

    The truth of the matter is, the Pelicans are not yet a great team.

    It’s not just the coaching. It’s also talent, chemistry, experience.

    If KD did not go down with his injury, OKC would be in the playoffs and the Pelicans would be out. In any case, Williams will be fired as coach.

  12. antonio says:

    monty williams was a good coach given his circumstances, shame they had to part ways …. so whats with this Calipari garbage, there a far more coaches in waiting more deserving than a failed nba coach and decent college coach…one has to look no further than MARK JACKSON… how he is not a full time coach is astounding, forget calipari, he is garbage, look to mark jackson , even scott brooks…. this is not the time for the pelicans to regress

  13. Mike Tulugak says:

    Sometimes the next level is down.

  14. TruthGuy says:

    Why? Because he spent a year with Calipari? You think that means there besties for life?
    Ridiculous premise, and a totally knee jerk reaction.
    There is nothing to say that Calipari coming in would do anything to secure Davis.
    C’mon Sekou! You’re better than this.

  15. squala96 says:

    If Monty didn’t sit Brow too early in the 4th quarter during Game 3 against the Warriors, they would have won and avoided a sweep. Regardless, Pels were an awful spectacle in the playoffs, should have been OKC.

  16. Garrett says:

    Just get it over with and get the old OKC Thunder head coach. He caters to big men and athletic point guards. Try to upgrade their point position at the draft or run with Tyreke Evans. They’d be a playoff team every year.

  17. Tamiko Scott says:

    I feel like coach Monty Williams did a wonderful job the years he have been here,but it’s time for a change, everyone has to make changes to make your team better, I just hope our star player stays with us . We love and respect you Anthony Davis and all you have done to push us to the Playoffs .please don’t leave us we need you, as for Monty Williams we love you and we are greatful for all you have done for our teams ,we will miss you and we wish you the best on your journey ahead!!!!!!

  18. Christopher says:

    Can Monty after he put up with the bumbling a of GM’s for years… Chandler for Okafor anyone? How about trading your first round picks for Jrue Holiday? Even better, signing Eric Gordon who didn’t even want to be in NO? Yup all Monty’s fault!

  19. steve says:

    mark jackson plz

  20. dustydreamnz says:

    Why do teams fire coaches just as the team is getting better? Was a similar situation in Sacramento.
    This team beat the Spurs when they were on fire and were playing for home advantage in the Playoffs.
    Was there a personality clash between Monty Williams and the owner, perhaps?

    • verkleyalex says:

      Everything that I’ve heard is that he was very well liked in the organization and the players all loved him. They just apparently didn’t believe he could be the coach to take them to the “next level”. We had the same situation in Toronto, Sam Mitchell was a favourite around here and still is, he had the team playing it’s best ball since Vince’s prime but had a small hiccup and went 8-8 to start I think and they canned him and set forth the Jay Triano era of losing and failure