After delivering the New Orleans Pelicans to the playoffs for the first time in four seasons, coach Monty Williams was fired on Tuesday morning, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
General manager Dell Demps had been wrestling for greater control of the franchise and pushed out Williams. Around Williams’ staff this season, there was a sense of decreasing management support and unnecessary obstacles, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Williams, who had one year left on his contract and a team option for a second, had a scheduled meeting with management Tuesday morning, where there was an expectation that the franchise would pick up the 2016-17 option on his deal, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Instead, New Orleans president Mickey Loomis let Williams go.
Williams, 43, led the Pelicans to the playoffs in the 2010-11 and 2014-15 seasons.
Williams navigated a distressed roster marred by injuries and filled with holes to deliver the Pelicans to the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoffs, where New Orleans was swept by Golden State. After winning 46 games in his first season with Chris Paul in 2010-11, the gutted Pelicans made incremental improvements of 21, 27, 34 and finally 45 victories this season.
On the final night of the regular season, New Orleans beat the San Antonio Spurs to qualify for the playoffs. As it turned out, it was a must-win for both teams.
Under Williams, Anthony Davis developed into one of the NBA’s dominant talents. Williams is a member of Mike Kryzyzewski’s coaching staff with Team USA, and a member of the NBA’s prestigious competition committee.
New Orleans is the third franchise to emerge with a head coaching opening, including Denver and Orlando. The presence of Davis makes the Pelicans the most appealing to prospective candidates.
Two weeks ago, New Orleans owner Tom Benson wrote a public letter of congratulations and support for Williams, his coaching staff and the team.
"I am very excited about the future of our Pelicans and you have my word and my resolve to bring everything to bear to win," Benson wrote.
More NBA coverage from Yahoo Sports: