Stan Van Gundy was fired by the New Orleans Pelicans after just one year following a 31-41 season. After rumors emerged that Zion Williamson may have influenced the team’s decision, Van Gundy addressed the idea.
Appearing on the STUpodity podcast, Van Gundy dismissed the idea that Zion might have played a role in his firing. He defended Zion from allegations of being a “coach killer.”
“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. One of the things I’ll miss is the opportunity to continue to coach him. He’s so unique in the way that he plays the game and the things that he can do, it really gets your mind spinning as a coach and you have a lot of possibilities in what you can do with him. That was fun to explore. 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.”
Van Gundy made it clear that he had a good relationship with Zion and liked coaching him. And aside from being unhappy about “not winning more games,” Zion never complained to him.
“In my mind, I liked coaching Zion. I had a good relationship with him. I had no problem, I think we elevated his platform that we gave him. We put him in different situations, had him handling the ball a lot, playing a lot of point guard. I think we did some good things with him.
“If they were unhappy, I didn’t hear about it. Zion was unhappy with us not winning more games, but Zion never expressed to me any of that. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t unhappy, it’s possible that they were unhappy with me and that’s what led to the change.”
The Pelicans will be looking for their third head coach since drafting Zion Williamson No. 1 overall in the 2019 NBA Draft. They have yet to announce a replacement for the 2021-22 replacement.
Who will Zion Williamson’s third head coach be?