NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The New Orleans Pelicans fired coach Alvin Gentry on Saturday after the club missed the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons.
The Pelicans went 30-42 this season, finishing with just two victories in their final eight games despite the presence of top overall draft choice Zion Williamson and first-time All-Star Brandon Ingram in the lineup until the club was eliminated from playoff contention with two games to play.
“These types of moves are often about fit and timing,” Pelicans basketball operations chief David Griffin said in announcing Gentry’s termination. “We believe now is the right time to make this change and bring in a new voice.”
Gentry went 175-225 since his hiring by former Pelicans general manager Dell Demps after the club fired Monte Williams following the 2014-15 season, when Anthony Davis was the face of the franchise.
The Pelicans made the playoffs in Gentry’s third season, sweeping Portland in the first round before falling to eventual champion Golden State in the second. But the Pelicans were derailed the following season by a combination of injuries and Davis’ trade demand, which precipitated Demps’ firing.
Gentry was retained even after Demps was replaced by Griffin and the coach’s contract was extended through the end of next season.
But the Pelicans faltered once again this season, starting 6-22 and laboring through a franchise record 13-game losing streak while top overall draft choice Zion Williamson missed the first 44 games of the season with a knee injury.
The Pelicans rallied back into contention for a playoff berth and were fully healthy when the season resumed in central Florida late last month after a hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Odds makers favored the Pelicans to make the playoffs, but losses in four of six after resuming their season eliminated them from playoff contention.
“I want to thank Alvin for his contributions to the Pelicans and the New Orleans community,” Pelicans owner Gayle Benson said. “We believe that making a head coaching change is necessary at this time. I truly appreciate Alvin’s leadership, dedication and perseverance through some challenging circumstances over the past five seasons.
“Our intention moving forward is to find the right head coach that will guide this Pelicans team to compete for championships,” Benson added. “That is what our fans deserve.”
Gentry came to New Orleans from Golden State, where he was a top assistant under Steve Kerr when the Warriors won the 2015 NBA title.
New Orleans was the fifth head coaching stop for Gentry, who is 65. He also has served as a head coach with Miami, Detroit, the Los Angeles Clippers and Phoenix, compiling a career coaching record of 510-595.