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Report: Pelicans plan to hire Willie Green as next head coach

Suns assistant emerged as frontrunner and is known best for his time with the Sixers as a player.

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Phoenix Suns Summer League head coach Willie Green talks with guard Retin Obasohan (30) during the second half of an NBA Summer League game against the New York Knicks at Thomas & Mack Center.  Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans are expected to hire Willie Green as their next head coach, The Athletic reported Tuesday. Green, who has been an assistant for the Phoenix Suns for two seasons, emerged as a candidate to start the week. The Suns face the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 4 of the 2021 NBA Finals on Wednesday night.

Green, 39, had spent three seasons as a coach with the Golden State Warriors, winning two championships in the process. He could pick up a third if the Suns win this series. Green played 12 seasons in the NBA, most notably seven with the Philadelphia 76ers from 2003-10.

The Pelicans have a few offseason decisions to make. The biggest is whether or not to match an offer sheet on PG Lonzo Ball, who is a restricted free agent. Ball could command a big offer sheet, something the Pelicans are reportedly not ready to match. The Bulls and Clippers are interested in Ball, per The Athletic. G Josh Hart is also a free agent, so the Pels will need to decide whether or not to bring back the veteran.

Other than that, Green will have a very strong young core to work with and develop. Headlined by future star Zion Williamson, the Pelicans will have lofty expectations in Year 1 under Green after falling short this past season under Stan Van Gundy. Playoffs will be the goal and with Williamson, Brandon Ingram, Steven Adams and some youngsters, NOLA will have plenty to get into at least the play-in tournament.