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Reports: Willie Green to leave Suns for Pelicans

Suns assistant coach Willie Green appears very close to accepting a head coaching job with the New Orleans Pelicans

2021 NBA Finals - Practice and Media Availability Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

You rarely get to know much about assistant coaches around the NBA, especially young ones, but Phoenix Suns assistant coach Willie Green is an exception.

Monty Williams plucked Green off the Golden State Warriors coaching staff in the summer of 2019, where Green had been a part of Steve Kerr’s staff for the last one of their five straight NBA Finals appearances. Before that, Green was a player development coach on the Warrior for two seasons after retiring from his 12-year NBA career.

Now it appears that Green will take on the challenge of coaching the underachieving Pelicans with their stars Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram and a host of other talent that had been expected to earn a playoff spot this year but fell well short of that goal.

This report was echoed and double-confirmed by multiple national NBA reporters today, so the deal appears to be as close to done as one can be. Green was rumored for this job the past few weeks since the Pelicans let go of Stan Van Gundy at the end of the regular season and performed a search for the new coach while the playoffs were underway.

The Suns head coach, Williams, and starting point guard Chris Paul regularly give Green praise for his work with the players on their preparation, attention to detail and readiness. Green is also credited for in-game tactical recommendations and often stands with a player to give one-on-one advice during timeouts or between their playing stints.

Green also regularly receives credit for the Suns defensive improvements this season, though it’s impossible to credit any one coach with all of any one thing. All the coaches participate in a team’s offensive and defensive schemes and execution, but Green appears to get more public credit than anyone not named Monty Williams.

The Suns will definitely miss Green going forward, but coaching is a transient profession and Williams has already turned over half the coaching staff since his hire just two years ago and look where they are now — just two wins from earning the franchise’s first-ever NBA title.

Green will stay with the Suns through the Finals before looking forward to his next job.

The Suns have a 2-1 lead in the NBA Finals and will play the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night in Game 4 on ABC.

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