Pelicans Coaching Search: Are Thibodeau and Skiles Realistic Candidates?


As the Pelicans search for a head coach continues, more and more news surrounding the hunt is starting to develop.

The Chicago Bulls have finally parted ways with five year head coach Tom Thibodeau. For a while it was unclear if Chicago would actually fire him, given that he still had a couple of years on his contract.

However, the volatility of that relationship was just too much for the Bulls organization to put up with, so they decided to just let him go.

May 8, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau gives instructions to his team during the first half in game three of the second round of the NBA Playoffs. at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

This is without a doubt a positive development for the Pelicans.

As I discussed in the overview of Thibodeau as a candidate, the Pels would have likely had to give up draft picks for the right to Thibodeau if Chicago decided to play hardball.

Even with that aspect of a potential deal off the table, Thibodeau will still probably be the most expensive candidate on the coaching market. Nonetheless, Thibodeau is now without question on the table for the Pelicans.

Speaking of candidates, another coach has entered the fray over the last couple of days: Scott Skiles.

Before any Skiles fanatics rejoice, just know that at this point in time it is very likely Skiles will join the Orlando Magic as their new coach.

However, anything is possible so he is worth exploring as a potential, although unlikely, candidate for the Pelicans head coaching position.

Skiles has thirteen years of coaching experience under his belt: three with the Phoenix Suns, five with the Chicago Bulls, and most recently, five with the Milwaukee Bucks, a tenure that came to an end during the 2012-2013 season.

Like the other candidates for the Pelicans job, Skiles has had very little success in the playoffs.

In his six appearances, he was never able to lead his team past the second round. While he has had a decent amount of success on the court, he has a bit of a track record in managing his team off the court: and it is not a good one.

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Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo! Sports goes into great detail in this piece from 2013 regarding Skiles’ relationship with his players over the years.

Basically, Skiles has trouble communicating roles to his players, resulting in stagnant development of young players. Former Bucks point guard Beno Udrih had this to say about his time with Skiles in Milwaukee after getting traded to Orlando during the 2012-2013 season:

"“It was just a bad situation there. I’m a professional and I’m a man, so I like to be told straight-up what they expect from me. So, in Milwaukee, that never happened. They were saying, ‘Yeah, yeah, we know. We’ve got to play you a little bit more.’ But it never happened. So when I did get into the game I didn’t know what they actually wanted to do, so I was just trying to find it myself, and I never did.”"

The Pelicans roster is not cut and dry: there are a lot of pieces that do not fit so well. Whether it is dealing with the trio of guards in Holiday, Gordon and Evans or the trio of big men in Anderson, Davis and Asik, there is a lot of variance with this roster.

It is up to the coaching staff to make sure the players know what they have to do each time they step on the court.

Grizzled veterans may have an easier time grasping their role within a team, but the Pelicans lack many players that fit that description.

They are one of the youngest teams in the league, so there is still plenty of room for these players to not only grow individually, but together as well.

Skiles definitely knows the NBA game, that is why he is a candidate for these positions. However, if communication and development are not his strong suits, he may not be the right fit for this young Pelicans team.

With the NBA Finals not yet under way, there is still plenty of time for the Pelicans to find their head coach.

Dell Demps remains mum on the subject, though he is probably talking plenty to the potential candidates.

Make sure you keep your ears open, because the Pelicans could have a new coach for next season at any time……

Next: Jeff Van Gundy: The Ideal Pelicans Coaching Candidate