Pelicans name Willie Green head coach

The New Orleans Pelicans hired Willie Green as their new head coach on Thursday.

The move was expected but was delayed due to Green’s role as an assistant coach with the Phoenix Suns, who just lost in six games to the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Finals.

“Willie has established himself as one of the most respected assistant coaches in the NBA,” Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin said in a statement. “He brings a vast amount of basketball knowledge and experience to our team as both a coach and former player, along with exceptional leadership qualities and an innate ability to connect with players, staff and fans alike.”

Green replaces Stan Van Gundy, who stepped down last month after just one season.

Green, who turns 40 on July 28, will become the third-youngest head coach in the league behind Mark Daigneault (35, Oklahoma City Thunder) and Taylor Jenkins (36, Memphis Grizzlies). He previously served as an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors, where he earned two championship rings in three seasons before joining Monty Williams’ coaching staff in Phoenix.

“It’s a blessing and an honor to get this opportunity in a special place like New Orleans. I look forward to getting to work and immersing myself and my family into the local community,” Green said.

Before becoming a coach, Green spent 12 seasons in the NBA as a shooting guard out of Detroit Mercy. He averaged 8.3 points in 731 career games (297 starts) with Philadelphia, the New Orleans Hornets, Atlanta, the Los Angeles Clippers and Orlando.

In his lone season as a player in New Orleans, Green averaged 8.7 points in 77 games (13 starts) in 2010-11.

The Pelicans went 31-41 in the just-concluded season and missed the playoffs for the third year in a row.

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