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AP source: Pelicans, Green negotiating, but no deal yet

AP source: Pelicans, Green negotiating, but no deal yet

A person familiar with the situation says the New Orleans Pelicans are negotiating with Suns assistant Willie Green about taking over as head coach but no deal is in place and discussions could extend beyond the NBA FinalsBy BRETT MARTEL AP Sports WriterJuly 14, 2021, 4:44 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleNEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans Pelicans are negotiating with Suns assistant Willie Green about taking over as head coach, but no deal is in place and discussions could extend beyond the NBA Finals, a person familiar with the situation said.“He has not agreed to a deal,” the person said to The Associated Press Wednesday on condition of anonymity because talks were ongoing. “We are working through it and may wait until the Finals conclude.”Should Green ultimately take the job, he’ll arrive in New Orleans at a time when pressure is rising to give young star Zion Williamson faith that he can find long-term satisfaction with the club that drafted him first overall two years ago.Green, a former NBA player who turns 40 on July 28, would become a first-time head coach after serving as an NBA assistant coach the past five years — first with Golden State and then with Phoenix, who were facing Milwaukee in Game 4 of the NBA finals on Wednesday night.Green was a member of two NBA title-winning staffs with the Warriors in 2017 and 2018. He moved to Phoenix two seasons ago to join the staff headed by Monte Williams, who also was the head coach in New Orleans when Green played there in the 2010-11 season on a team guard Chris Paul led to the playoffs.With the Suns, Green has been widely credited as the architect of the team’s defensive system. Phoenix had the NBA’s sixth-best defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions), while high-scoring New Orleans missed the playoffs in part because of its 23rd rated defense.Beyond his well-regarded acumen for on-court strategy, Green appears to command respect from NBA players. He had a 12-year playing career as a combo guard with Philadelphia, New Orleans, Atlanta, the Los Angele Clippers and Orlando.“I couldn’t imagine going through this season without having Willie here,” Paul, now starring for Phoenix, said recently. “Willie just gets it.“He’s just always been a guy that I could talk to about anything. He pushes me,” Paul continued. “And I think for him, not only being a good player in his own right, (but also) that time he spent with the Warriors on those championship teams, there’s nothing in this league Willie hasn’t seen.”Another person has told the AP that New Orleans also viewed Brooklyn assistant Jacques Vaughn as a leading candidate before he removed himself for consideration a couple weeks ago, and that the club has high regard for Bucks assistant Charles Lee. The person also spoke to AP on condition of anonymity because the Pelicans have not publicly discussed the names of candidates to replace Stan Van Gundy, who was fired last month, just one season after replacing Alvin Gentry.While Williamson is going on his third coach in three seasons, Green would be by far the youngest and least experienced – particularly by comparison to Gentry, 66, and Van Gundy, 61.But it would not be the first time Pelicans basketball operations chief David Griffin hired a first-time coach with the expectation of quick success. Griffin was Cleveland’s vice president of basketball operations in 2016 when he gave Tyronn Lue his first head coaching job. The Cavaliers, with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving leading the club on the court, won the NBA championship that season.———More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

AP source: Saints' Ramczyk agrees to 5-year, $96M extension

AP source: Saints' Ramczyk agrees to 5-year, $96M extension

Saints right tackle Ryan Ramczyk has agreed to a five-year extension and a person familiar with the contract says it’s worth up to $96 millionBy BRETT MARTEL AP Sports WriterJune 30, 2021, 7:05 PM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleNEW ORLEANS — Saints right tackle Ryan Ramczyk, who once quit football during college to pursue a career in welding, has agreed to a five-year contract extension making him one of the highest-paid offensive linemen in the NFL.“It’s a huge relief,” Ramczyk said on a video conference call hosted by the Saints after he’d agreed to his new contract. “Extremely happy with how everything played out.”The new contract for the 2019 All-Pro selection is worth up to $96 million, a person with knowledge of the situation said.The person spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday because financial terms have not been announced. The person said the extension, which was first reported by ESPN, guarantees Ramczyk $60 million.While the 6-foot-6, 314-pound Ramczyk did not discuss specifics about financial terms, he acknowledged that it represented one of the most lucrative contracts yet for an NFL right tackle.“Obviously, it’s awesome. But at the end of the day, I’m going to go out and do what I always do,” Ramczyk said. “I’m still me. I’m still going to be the same guy, same work ethic.”Ramczyk was a late first-round draft choice out of Wisconsin in 2017, five years after he quit football at Division II Winona State and enrolled at Mid-State Technical College with intentions of becoming a welder.“I was taking the classes to go into it, but I took that year off and I just missed the game of football,” Ramczyk recalled. “Ultimately, that had more pull on me and I went back to my hometown D-III school and asked if I could play some football again.”That hometown school was Wisconsin-Stevens Point, where Ramczyk played two seasons before transferring to Wisconsin and blossoming into a bona fide pro prospect in 2016.The 27-year-old has now started 63 regular-season games in his four NFL seasons.Extending Ramczyk’s deal was among New Orleans’ offseason priorities because he was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next year.The deal helps the Saints secure one of their top blockers for the long term at a time when they are making a transition at quarterback.With Drew Brees, the NFL’s all-time leader in yards passing, having retired after last season, New Orleans enters training camp with a quarterback competition between 2020 backups Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill.Ramczyk’s extension also continues a Saints pattern of investing considerably in those who block for an offense that has ranked among the NFL’s most prolific since coach Sean Payton took over in 2006.Of the Saints’ five projected 2021 starting offensive linemen, three are first-round draft choices, including Andrus Peat (2015) and Cesar Ruiz (2020). Center Erik McCoy was a second-rounder in 2019. Left tackle Terron Armstead was a third-round find out of Arkansas-Pine Bluff in 2013, who three years later signed a five-year, $65 million extension.“They’ve dedicated a lot of resources to the offensive line, so it means a lot,” Ramczyk said. “We have a really solid group of guys here.”But the Saints also still have several prominent players on both sides of the ball with uncertain futures beyond 2021.Armstead, now entering his ninth season, is scheduled to become a free agent next season.The Saints have placed their franchise tag for this season on safety Marcus Williams, a second-round pick in 2017, and have until July 15 to reach a long-term extension with him.Marshon Lattimore, the club’s first of two first-round selections in 2017, is entering his final season under contract in a year when New Orleans has seen depth at that position thinned by the loss of one starting cornerback — Janoris Jenkins — in free agency.———More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP—NFL

Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy out after 1 season at helm

Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy out after 1 season at helm

New Orleans Pelicans basketball operations chief David Griffin says Stan Van Gundy is out as coach following just one season at the helmBy BRETT MARTEL AP Sports WriterJune 16, 2021, 5:02 PM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleNEW ORLEANS — Stan Van Gundy is out as Pelicans coach following just one season at the helm.“This was a difficult decision as I have tremendous respect for Stan both personally and professionally,” Pelicans basketball operations chief David Griffin said Wednesday. “But we agreed it is in the best interest of our team to move forward in a different direction.”The club described Van Gundy’s departure as a mutual agreement “to part ways.”Hired last October, about two months before the start of a pandemic-delayed and shortened season, Van Gundy coached a Pelicans squad led by All-Star Zion Williamson to a 31-41 record. New Orleans finished in 11th place, two games out of the final Western Conference play-in spot.Now Griffin will be hiring his second coach in as many season after firing Alvin Gentry last summer.The next coach will be Williamson’s third since he entered the NBA as the league’s first overall draft choice in 2019.Griffin had articulated higher hopes for Van Gundy when he hired the 61-year-old to oversee a roster in which most players were younger than 25.“Coach Van Gundy was obviously the selection for us,” Griffin said at the time. “In addition to giving us the best chance to win in the short term, we feel he gives us the best chance to build a sustainable winner.”Van Gundy spent parts of 12 pervious seasons coaching Miami, Orlando and Detroit, winning 58% of his games and going to the playoffs eight times in that span.New Orleans is one of six NBA teams currently with head coaching vacancies. The others are Orlando, Portland, Boston, Indiana and Washington. The Wizards, like the Pelicans, announced their opening Wednesday when they parted ways with Scott Brooks.Griffin saw Van Gundy as “a proven winner,” as well as “a teacher and a very sincere, authentic human being who is going to build long-lasting relationships with our team.”But star players such as forward Brandon Ingram offered only tepid reviews of Van Gundy’s coaching style when his first season in New Orleans ended last month.“It’s OK,” Ingram said. “This is our first year together. He has a different coaching style than I’m used to seeing from most.”Griffin also had hoped Van Gundy would markedly improve the club’s defense, but New Orleans finished in 23rd in defensive rating (113.3 points per 100 possessions) after ranking 21st a season earlier.Williamson largely thrived under Van Gundy and saw his role expand with a “point-Zion” experiment that featured the agile, 6-foot-7, 284-pound forward as the primary ball-handler. But Williamson also expressed dissatisfaction with the overall direction of the club at season’s end.“Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is kind of insane, so I’m not going to going to sit here and say we’re close,” Williamson said. “The reality of it is it was very disappointing not to be a part of the play-in tournament and stuff. But we just got to come in and just be better. That’s just me being real.”Those comments ran somewhat counter to the narrative promulgated by Griffin, who saw his team as one that looked far more competitive that its record.The Pelicans blew 14 double-digit leads and had a rash of late-season injuries to key players, including Williamson, before winding up just two games behind San Antonio for the final Western conference play-in spot.Griffin also praised Van Gundy for being the only one of nine coaching candidates he interviewed last offseason “who saw point-Zion in Zion.”Williamson will be eligible for an extension after next season. Without a new deal, the club could keep him for a fourth season by picking up a team option before he’d become a restricted free agent in the summer of 2023. So pressure is rising on Griffin and franchise to find a coach, and build a roster, in which Williamson has faith going forward.———More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports