The Phoenix Suns will take on the New Orleans Pelicans in a back to back spot on the schedule. Playing the Pelicans both Friday and Sunday night in New Orleans. A city that head coach Monty Williams has strong history with.
Williams coached the New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans for 5 seasons, 2010-2015. In his first year there, with a complete team centered around Chris Paul, New Orleans went 46-36 before a first round playoff exit.
Chris Paul got traded in one of the weirdest trade scenarios you will probably ever hear about. Leaving Williams to coach and team in a full on rebuild. Luckily Anthony Davis was the first overall pick for the Hornets/Pelicans a few months later.
With the odds stacked against him, Monty Williams put his head down and went to work on what some called the impossible. Turning around a team that was lead by a rookie, in a complete rebuild.
Some people still to this day say Williams was the scapegoat of this time period in New Orleans. Saying that no matter what Williams accomplished, his time as head coach was numbered.
His Career in New Orleans
After two bottom of the barrel seasons in which the Hornets went combined 48-100. Things got better. The team was owned by the NBA Commissioner at the time, David Stern. More on that later. The rumors of the team leaving the city due to lack of attendance was loud in New Orleans
The Hornets changed their name to the Pelicans in a rebrand from a new owner Tom Benson. Giving the hope that the team would be here to stay. The Pelicans went 34-48, not great but better.
Then when he finally did it, he finally got through the rebuild and had a good team. The Pelicans went 45-37 in 2015. The implication that the public media ran with was that if the Pelicans missed the playoffs, Williams would be out of a job.
New Orleans snuck into the playoffs, as a 8 seed. Anthony Davis had his welcoming party to the world, playing outstanding basketball in the first round series. A series that was closer than the paper says. Games were down to the wire.
However, that first round playoff match up in 2015 would be against the Golden State Warriors at the beginning of what is now called a dynasty. The Warriors would sweep the Pelicans. Yet, the future looked bright with Williams and Davis together.
The End of his Time in New Orleans
Until it wasn’t, Williams was fired, even though he made the playoffs. Even though he turned around a rebuilding roster and went from 21 wins to 45 in a matter of 3 years.
The city still to this day misses coach Monty Williams. New Orleans watched him turn around the Phoenix Suns in a similar fashion to what he did with the Pelicans. New Orleans watched him go to the Finals, and wondered what could of been if he had been given a real chance.
He was a young coach with little experience, the move felt premeditated. Almost like they said, let’s hire him for a few years and fire him once we get our feet under us.
The only problem was, he was the reason the franchise found their footing. Pelicans had bad years after he left, and it wasn’t until now head coach Willie Green who came from Monty Williams system in Phoenix took over that Pelicans are finding success again.
On behalf of the city of New Orleans, thank you Monty. As soon as you took the job with Phoenix I said, “Watch out, Suns gonna make some playoff runs”. Nobody believed me in 2019.
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Rowan Donaghey is a MLB insider, NHL insider, Betting insider and breaking news reporter for Burn City Sports. You can follow him on twitter via @RowanDonaghey