Five things to know about Pelicans head coach Willie Green
1) A native of Detroit who played college basketball at the University of Detroit Mercy, Green’s No. 34 jersey is retired by that school. After playing four collegiate seasons, he was a second-round pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, selected No. 41 overall. The 39-year-old will celebrate his 40th birthday next week on July 28.
2) Green is the eighth head coach in New Orleans franchise history, but the first to also have played for the team. He was an important role player on the 2010-11 Hornets, who started 8-0 and reached the Western Conference playoffs with a 46-36 record. Green played in 77 games and started 13 times for a New Orleans club that earned a No. 7 seed, before being eliminated by the Lakers in a hard-fought first-round series 4-2. Previous New Orleans head coaches who were NBA players include Paul Silas, Byron Scott and Monty Williams.
3) Speaking of Williams, the 2010-11 season was his first as an NBA head coach and Green’s lone campaign as a player in the Crescent City. During a confusing 2011 offseason featuring the trade of Chris Paul to the Clippers, Green ended up signing as a free agent with Atlanta. Williams and Green had been teammates with Philadelphia at the start of the 2003-04 season, prior to Williams being traded and eventually retiring from playing.
4) After appearing in 52 games for Orlando in 2014-15 to conclude his NBA playing career, Green began coaching as an assistant for Golden State in 2016-17, then won two consecutive championships with the Warriors (as well as reaching the NBA Finals in 2019). He joined Phoenix and Williams’ staff in 2019-20. When the Suns qualified for the Finals this year, it meant that Green has participated in the league’s championship round four out of the last five seasons.
5) Phoenix players were highly complimentary of Green earlier this month after it was widely reported that he’d be leaving the Suns to take the New Orleans job, with the backcourt of Paul and Devin Booker praising Green for the impact he made on them. Booker on Green to AZCentral.com: “I respect him to the fullest. New Orleans is going to have a really good guy on their hands that is taking control in leading that group.”