Pelicans announce coaching staff additions and changes

September 13, 2019 

NEW ORLEANS – The New Orleans Pelicans announced today the additions and changes to Head Coach Alvin Gentry’s coaching staff. Chris Finch has been named Associate Head Coach, Offense. Jeff Bzdelik (Associate Head Coach, Defense) and Jamelle McMillan (Assistant Coach) join Fred Vinson on the coaching staff. Joe Boylan has been elevated to Assistant Coach/Director of Player Development, while Michael Ruffin has been promoted to Assistant coach/Player Development.

“We are extremely pleased to have finalized our coaching staff,” said Pelicans Head Coach Alvin Gentry. “This is a collection of diverse, dedicated and passionate individuals with years of experience and knowledge as both players and teachers of the game.”

Finch, who most recently served as an assistant coach on Gentry’s staff the previous two seasons, will enter his first year as the team’s associate head coach. During the 2017-18 season, Finch helped the Pelicans offense finish the season ranked first in pace (101.5), 12th in offensive rating (108.5) and third in points per game (111.7). As an assistant coach with the Denver Nuggets during the 2016-17 season, Finch oversaw an offense that finished the season ranked fourth in offensive rating (112.2) and third in points per game (111.7).

Prior to joining the Nuggets, Finch spent five seasons as an assistant coach with the Houston Rockets from 2011-16 as well as two seasons with the Rockets’ NBA Development League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. While serving as head coach of the Vipers, Finch registered a record of 67-33 (.670) and guided the team to consecutive appearances in the NBA D-League finals. In 2009-10, Finch received the Dennis Johnson Coach of the Year Award en route to capturing the 2010 NBA D-League championship.

Bzdelik enters his first season as an assistant coach with the New Orleans Pelicans. Prior to joining the Pelicans, Bzdelik served as associate head coach of the Houston Rockets from 2016-2019. With a focus on improving the team’s defense, the Rockets ranked third in the NBA in defensive rating over their final 45 games in 2017-18 on their way to recording a franchise record 65 wins. Houston won over 70-percent of its games in Bzdelik’s three seasons on Mike D’Antoni’s staff.

Prior to joining the Rockets, Bzdelik spent two seasons as an assistant coach with the Memphis Grizzlies. During that stretch, the Grizzlies allowed the fifth fewest points of any team in the league. In 2002, Bzdelik was named head coach of the Denver Nuggets. In his second season, Bzdelik guided the Nuggets to their first playoff appearance in nine years. Bzdelik also served as a head coach on the collegiate level for the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (1986-88), Air Force (2005-07), Colorado (2007-10), and Wake Forest (2010-14).

McMillan returns to the Pelicans after spending the 2018-19 season as an assistant coach for the Phoenix Suns. McMillan spent six seasons previously with the Pelicans, serving as a player development coach from 2013-16 before being elevated to an assistant coach from 2016-18.

Boylan joined the Pelicans last season as an assistant coach/player development coach. Prior to coming to New Orleans, Boylan was a member of the Memphis Grizzlies coaching staff, serving in a player development role, as well as serving as the associate head coach of their G League affiliate, the Iowa Energy. The Emerson College graduate went to Memphis after serving as an assistant coach with the Grand Rapids Drive of the NBA G League during the 2014-15 season, and three seasons with the Golden State Warriors from 2011-14, serving first as a video coordinator, then adding player development and assistant coaching duties.

Ruffin enters his first season as an assistant coach/player development after spending the last five seasons in a player development role. Ruffin, who additionally served as the team’s assistant strength and conditioning coach from 2015-19, was a nine-year NBA veteran after being selected No. 32 overall in 1999 out of Tulsa, appearing in 414 career games with Chicago, Philadelphia, Utah, Washington, Milwaukee and Portland, and also played internationally in Spain.