NBA coach Stan Van Gundy insists that Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram or any other New Orleans Pelicans player had nothing to do with him splitting ways with the Pelicans. After their season ended, the Pelicans announced that they and Van Gundy mutually agreed to part ways.
"I hate when it gets put on players that players are getting coaches fired and things like that. I think that makes players look bad and I don't think that's fair," Van Gundy said on the "Stupodity" podcast.
"Players certainly have the right to express their opinion to people and things like that but front offices and owners make decisions and they are the ones who make decisions to fire people. That should never be placed on players.
"I know this, regardless of what happened in that regard, Zion's no coach killer. He's a guy who is gonna help you win a lot of games. He plays the game the right way. One of the things I'll miss is the opportunity to continue to coach him.
He's so unique in the way that he plays the game and the things that he can do, it really gets your mind spinning as a coach and you have a lot of possibilities in what you can do with him. That was fun to explore. I'm happy with what we did with Zion.
I think we helped him. How anyone else felt about that would be up to them."
Per report, Williamson's family was unhappy with Van Gundy
"I don't know anything about that," Van Gundy said. "In my mind, I liked coaching Zion.
I had a good relationship with him. I had no problem. I think we elevated his platform that we gave him. We put him in different situations, had him handling the ball a lot, playing a lot of point guard. I think we did some good things with him.
"If they were unhappy, I didn't hear about it. Zion was unhappy with us not winning more games, but Zion never expressed to me any of that. That doesn't mean he wasn't unhappy; it's possible that they were unhappy with me and that's what led to the change."
When asked if it was a mutual split, Van Gundy said: "I would say it was joint in this sense: I think you can understand this, I don't want to be somewhere they don't want me. And they didn't want me. I wasn't at that point going to fight to try to stay there.
When I left Detroit, my owner there -- who I really liked -- Tom Gores, also said it was a mutual decision. I said yeah, 'Tom asked me to leave so I left.' I guess that's mutual."