Pelicans Rumors: Willie Green, Charles Lee 'Prominent Candidates' for HC Job

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJuly 5, 2021

Phoenix Suns assistant coach Willie Green in the second half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019, in Denver. The Nuggets won 116-104. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Phoenix Suns assistant Willie Green and Milwaukee Bucks assistant Charles Lee have emerged as "prominent candidates" for the New Orleans Pelicans' head coaching vacancy, according to the New York Times' Marc Stein.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported Lee also remains in the hunt for the Washington Wizards' gig.

On June 25, NOLA.com's Christian Clark reported Lee and Brooklyn Nets assistant Jacque Vaughn were "viewed as the strongest contenders" for the job. However, Vaughn took himself out of the running days later, with Wojnarowski reporting he preferred to stay with the Nets.

Lee earned his first NBA job with the Atlanta Hawks in 2014-15 at age 30. He spent four years in Atlanta before following Mike Budenholzer to Milwaukee ahead of the 2018-19 season.

Green played in the NBA for 12 years before making his transition to the sideline. He joined the Golden State Warriors' staff in 2016 and took a position with the Suns after Monty Williams was hired in 2019.

In Stan Van Gundy, the Pelicans brought in what appeared to be a pair of safe hands given his experience and track record in the league. Instead, the 61-year-old didn't seem to mesh with the franchise's young roster.

It's probably not a coincidence that Lee and Green are both under 40 since either candidate might be better positioned to connect with the Pelicans players.

Because of the presence of Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, New Orleans is an attractive gig. The organization also has a stockpile of draft picks that can help land another marquee star. 

That all raises the bar for whoever is hired, though. The front office is under a similar level of pressure since it's moving to a third head coach in as many years.