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Mike D'Antoni Joining Pelicans as Coaching Consultant After Leaving Nets

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVAugust 4, 2021

Steven Ryan/Getty Images

Mike D'Antoni is joining the New Orleans Pelicans staff as a coaching consultant to first-year head coach Willie Green.

D'Antoni was most recently an assistant for the Brooklyn Nets in 2020-21. In his new role, the 70-year-old will "periodically spend time with Pelicans' coaching staff through summer league, training camp and season," according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

New Orleans also announced the addition of Jarron Collins, who had been an assistant for the Golden State Warriors since 2014.

"This is a cohesive group of high-character individuals with diverse backgrounds and skill sets,” Green said of his new staff. “I’m confident that their coaching and playing experience at the highest professional and collegiate levels, combined with their work ethic and team-focused approach, will help build the foundation we need to be successful."

ESPN's Jordan Schultz reported in June that D'Antoni was on the radar for the Portland Trail Blazers, Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic as they conducted their head coaching searches.

That he stepped away from the Nets and took a job with the Pelicans that doesn't require a day-to-day commitment raises questions as to his desire to coach full-time. On the other hand, D'Antoni may view this as a less strenuous way to remain within the NBA ecosystem and keep open the possibility of working as a head coach again.

This role also reunites him with Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin, who worked in the Phoenix Suns front office while D'Antoni coached the team.

Assembling the right staff is imperative for Green as the 40-year-old approaches his maiden voyage. Even for somebody with years of experience on an NBA bench, making the transition from assistant to head coach can always be tricky.

And with the attractiveness of coaching Zion Williamson comes the pressure to deliver results.

While there isn't yet an imminent threat of Williamson leaving, his future in New Orleans has already become a topic of discussion. Firing Stan Van Gundy after just one season seemed to be an acknowledgment of how the organization can't afford to tread water for too long. The team finished 31-41 and 11th in the Western Conference.

Nobody expects Green to bring a championship to the Pels in 2021-22, but anything short of a postseason appearance will probably qualify as a major disappointment.

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