After two seasons in the sports media world, Stan Van Gundy is returning to the NBA sidelines. Van Gundy joined ESPN as a studio analyst in September 2018, four months after parting ways with the Detroit Pistons (where he was both head coach and team president) and eight months after he threatened to boycott production meetings and in-game interviews with the network over their publishing of quotes from LaVar Ball. Last summer, he left ESPN for a studio analyst and game analyst role at Turner, which he told AA was a better fit thanks to a more set schedule. And now, he’s back in the NBA as the head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Andrew Lopez broke that news Wednesday, and Van Gundy confirmed it on Twitter:
I’m excited to join a talented New Orleans Pelicans team. It will be an honor to work with our players and to work for Mrs. Benson and David Griffin, Trajan Langdon, their staff and the great people of New Orleans. I can’t wait to talk to our players and get the process started
— Stan Van Gundy (@realStanVG) October 21, 2020
Van Gundy will be missed in the broadcasting world by many, and his work at Turner in particular drew plaudits. Not all recent coaches or players turn into good analysts, and many who are still hoping to return to the league are sometimes very careful not to be too critical of anyone, but Van Gundy seemed to say what he was actually thinking, and he brought plenty of good insight to the table as both a game analyst and a studio analyst. (And Turner deserves credit for finding the right spots for him and giving him comfortable roles to settle into.)
It will be interesting to see who Turner finds to replace Van Gundy, and it will also be interesting to see how Van Gundy approaches the media as a coach following this stint in the media. As mentioned above, he got into some feuds with media outlets during his last coaching stint, including that threat to boycott ESPN interviews over a piece from someone who didn’t even work on their NBA coverage (college basketball writer Jeff Goodman, who’s now at Stadium). While Van Gundy ultimately didn’t follow through on that threat, that was still one of the more dramatic overreactions to media coverage from a current coach in some time. We’ll see how he deals with the media as the head coach of the Pelicans.