The New Orleans Pelicans have fired head coach Stan Van Gundy, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Andrew Lopez.
Wojnarowski added Van Gundy's departure felt "inevitable" after meetings with executive vice president David Griffin.
The Pelicans missed the playoffs for the third straight season in 2020-21, finishing 11th in the Western Conference at 31-41.
According to Kevin O'Connor of The Ringer, assistant coaches Teresa Weatherspoon and Fred Vinson have emerged as candidates to succeed Van Gundy.
Wojnarowski provided more on New Orleans' coaching search:
The Pels' failure to even make the play-in tournament was disappointing but not entirely surprising.
Despite trading Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers, the franchise showed ambition ahead of the 2019-20 campaign by adding JJ Redick and Derrick Favors to a young roster headlined by Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball.
However, sending Jrue Holiday to the Milwaukee Bucks during the 2020 offseason for two first-round picks and two first-round pick swaps seemed to signal a shift in short-term priorities, even though New Orleans also acquired Steven Adams to fortify its frontcourt
Regardless, the Pelicans weren't satisfied with what Van Gundy delivered.
NOLA.com's Scott Kushner reported in May a level of "tension" lingered between Van Gundy and his players. Kushner also pointed to comments from The Athletic's Sam Amick, who said the roster was "not vibing with the coach."
The Pelicans will be an attractive vacancy for prospective candidates.
Ball is due to hit restricted free agency, but Williamson and Ingram represent a dynamic tandem around which to build a contender. Williamson made his first All-Star appearance this season and averaged 27.0 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. Ingram matched his scoring average (23.8) from 2019-20 in the first season of his five-year, $158.3 million extension.
Their contributions haven't translated into winning, though, and Van Gundy's quick ouster will raise questions. Although executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin didn't oversee the Davis era, it's impossible to separate Wednesday's news from the lack of success the Pelicans enjoyed in previous years.
Fans in the Big Easy are aware of how stagnation can alienate a franchise cornerstone.
New Orleans doesn't yet need to worry about losing Ingram or Williamson, but the front office can't whiff this badly on another head-coaching hire.