To say that this season was a success for the New Orleans Pelicans would be an understatement.
After going 34-48 last season and 30-52 the year before, the Pelicans earned the sixth seed in the Western Conference with a 48-34 record. They then swept the third-seeded Portland Trail Blazers in the first round of the playoffs before losing their second-round series against the Golden State Warriors in five games.
Their victory over the Blazers in the first round was the franchise’s second playoff series victory in its 16-year history and the first since the 2007-2008 campaign. Their 14-win increase over the previous year was the second-highest in the entire NBA (behind the Philadelphia 76ers).
Ahead of their matchup with the Warriors, Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry made it clear that he wanted to coach New Orleans for many years to come, beyond next season. The team picked up his option for next season, but didn’t originally give him an extension beyond that.
“Yeah, I love this city,” Gentry told Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated at the time. “I think anybody who has ever been here loves this city. I love the team that we’ve got here."
“And because of that I would love to be here and I would love to try to win a championship here,” he added. “I think that is everyone’s goal, obviously, when they start. … This city right here is due for a celebration. I can’t imagine how it would be if we were able to pull that off.”
Now Gentry will get that chance, as the team announced that his contract will be extended through the end of the 2020-2021 campaign.
A much-deserved honor
“We are thrilled to have Alvin as our head coach,” General Manager Dell Demps said in a statement. “He did a tremendous job last season. When we faced adversity, Alvin and his staff continually discovered ways to place the team in situations where we could be successful. I want to thank Mrs. Benson for her endless support and look forward to working with Alvin and his coaching staff as we strive to have sustained success.”
“I am extremely thankful to Mrs. Benson and the Pelicans organization for their support and confidence in my abilities to lead this team," said Gentry. “Since day One, they have treated me like family and have provided us with the necessary resources to compete at the highest level. Mrs. Benson has been incredibly supportive of our coaching staff and players, and I couldn’t be happier to work for such an exceptional owner. I am excited for the great opportunities that are ahead for our organization and the city of New Orleans.”
While there are many unknowns headed into next season, most notably involving the contracts of DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo, Gentry will be leading the talented core of Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, Mirotic and company.
As for that championship? As long as the Warriors stay together, that might be a stretch.