- Scott Brooks will not be returning as head coach as the Washington Wizards after no agreement could be reached on a new deal.
- Stan Van Gundy is out as New Orleans Pelicans’ head coach after one season.
- There are now a total of six head coaching vacancies in the NBA.
Two more NBA head coaches won’t be returning this fall after Washington parted ways with Scott Brooks and New Orleans did the same with Stan Van Gundy. As has been the case in every head coaching change this offseason neither team used the term ‘firing’ in announcing their moves.
The Washington Wizards announced that they ‘would not bring back’ head coach Scott Brooks. Team GM Tommy Sheppard indicated that it was his decision to not renew Brooks’ contract after the two sides failed to come to terms on an extension. That led to Sheppard announcing the move with this cryptic statement:
“It is something from a personal standpoint that was very, very difficult. Scotty is probably one of the finest people I have ever worked with in my life … a dear close friend. But in this business, we have to be about results moving forward and ability of getting better. And I made the decision to do this.”
“I wouldn’t say it didn’t work out. I just think it’s time to move on.”
Two of the team’s top players–Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal–lobbied for Brooks to return leading to yet another cryptic quote from GM Sheppard:
“I take all that into account. I had thorough conversations with everyone in the organization. I am aware of how people feel. I am aware of how I feel.”
“This is showbiz, it’s not show-friends. And what we got to do as an organization is continue to do whatever it takes to have sustainable winning.”
Beal’s future status with the team is also in doubt–he’s in the final year of his contract next season and has been rumored to be on the trading block. No indication on what the issue or issues were between Brooks and the team that couldn’t be resolved.
In New Orleans, the Pelicans have also relieved Stan Van Gundy of his head coaching duties–they termed it ‘moving forward in a different direction’. Van Gundy leaves after one season in which the Pelicans went 31-41 and didn’t make the playoffs. VP of Basketball Operations David Griffin had reportedly been ‘engaged in talks’ with Van Gundy for weeks though it isn’t clear if the discussions were to determine his job status or the terms under which he would leave. VP Griffin released this ‘best luck in future endeavors’ quote announcing the move:
“On behalf of Mrs. Gayle Benson and the Pelicans organization, I would like to thank Stan for the integrity and professionalism that he demonstrated during his time in New Orleans, as well as the commitment and work ethic he brought to our team. This was a difficult decision as I have tremendous respect for Stan both personally and professionally, but we agreed it is in the best interest of our team to move forward in a different direction. We wish Stan, Kim and their family all the best in the future.”
Griffin had this oblique explanation for the decision to ‘move in another direction’:
“This decision was not wrought out of our previous results. … This was wrought in our philosophical difference in how we’re going to reach the next step in our development”.
With Van Gundy and Woods hitting the bricks there are now six head coaching vacancies in the NBA–Washington, New Orleans, Boston, Indiana, Orlando and Portland.