Saturday, November 27 2021

NEW ORLEANS (AP) – The New Orleans Pelicans have hired Phoenix Suns assistant Willie Green as their new head coach.

Green, a former NBA player who turns 40 on July 28, is a head coach for the first time after serving as an NBA assistant coach for the past five years – first with Golden State, then with Phoenix. , who lost to Milwaukee in the NBA Finals on Tuesday.

He arrives in New Orleans at a time when pressure is mounting to give young star Zion Williamson faith that he can find long-term satisfaction with the club that drafted him two years ago.

“Willie has established himself as one of the most respected assistant coaches in the NBA. Much of this is due to a tireless work ethic and genuine character,” David Griffin, vice president, said Thursday. Executive of Basketball Operations. “He brings to our team a vast knowledge and experience of basketball as a coach and former player, as well as exceptional leadership qualities and an innate ability to connect with players, staff and fans. “

Green was a member of two NBA champion teams with the Warriors in 2017 and 2018. He moved to Phoenix two seasons ago to join the team led by Monte Williams, who was also the head coach of the Nova. -Orléans when Green played there in the 2010-11 season on a team with goaltender Chris Paul leading to the playoffs.

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Along with the Suns, Green has been widely credited as the architect of the team’s defensive system. Phoenix had the sixth-best defensive rating in the NBA (points given per 100 possessions), while high-scoring New Orleans missed the playoffs in part because of its 23rd defense.

“It is a blessing and an honor to have this opportunity in a special place like New Orleans. I can’t wait to get down to business and immerse myself and my family in the local community, ”said Green.

Beyond his keen sense of strategy on the pitch, Green seems to command respect from NBA players. He had a 12-year playing career as a combo guard with Philadelphia, New Orleans, Atlanta, the Los Angeles Clippers and Orlando.

This isn’t the first time Griffin has hired a trainer for the first time in hopes of quick success. Griffin was vice president of basketball operations for Cleveland in 2016 when he gave Tyronn Lue his first job as head coach. The Cavaliers, with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving leading the club on the field, won the NBA championship that season.

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