Stan Van Gundy on Pelicans' David Griffin: 'We Look at Things Totally Differently'

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVJuly 6, 2021

New Orleans Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy yells to his players during the first half against the Golden State Warriors in an NBA basketball game on Friday, May 14, 2021, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
AP Photo/Tony Avelar

Former New Orleans Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy said he had a difference of opinion with executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin on what should be prioritized within the organization, which led to his dismissal after one season.

Van Gundy told The Dan Le Batard Show (via Christian Clark of NOLA.com) that his focus was on the court, whereas Griffin placed a greater priority on relationships.

"I felt the focus should be what went on on the court," Van Gundy said. "What was good. What was bad. All of that. I think that Griff was more concerned with the atmosphere around the team and the happiness of people and things like that. That was probably the biggest difference. If I would've gone into a meeting, 'Hey, you were 31-41, and that's not good enough,' I've got no problem with that. That's what we sign up for in this business. Regardless of circumstances, that's what we sign up for in this business. But that's not what it came down to or at least what I heard. We look at things totally differently in terms of what's important."

Of course, this is an easy situation to parse: Players reportedly did not enjoy playing for Van Gundy, and Griffin moved on in part to keep the locker room happy. This likely wouldn't have been an issue if the Pelicans were successful, but they finished 31-41 after many expected them to make the playoffs.

Winning and relationship building are two components of coaching in the NBA, particularly in a small market. There have already been whispers about Zion Williamson's future with New Orleans, and he's not even on his second contract.

It's unclear if Williamson and Van Gundy had a contentious relationship, but the odds are that the coach would be returning if they had been on strong terms.