Though the Philadelphia 76ers 2021-2022 regular season scheduled has yet to be released, if and when they play the New Orleans Pelicans, they will see a very familiar face roaming courtside at the head of the bench.
According to reports, the Pelicans are planning to hire Phoenix Suns assistant coach Willie Green to be their head coach next season.
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Green Played His First 7 Seasons With the Sixers
A Detroit native, Green played four years of college basketball at the University of Detroit Mercy, where he averaged 14.3 points per game and shot over 35% from three-point land. The guard was then selected 41st overall by the Seattle SuperSonics in the 2003 NBA Draft, but immediately traded to Philadelphia in exchange for 50th overall pick Paccelis Morlende.
Green played 12 NBA seasons, the first seven of which were with the Sixers. Green’s run with the 76ers coincided with a time of mediocrity for Philly, as they made the playoffs three times, but never finished with more than 43 wins and didn’t make it past the first round.
He averaged under eight points in under 19 minutes over each of his first three years in the NBA, but his playing time increased tremendously during his fourth season, when Sixers legend Allen Iverson was stunningly traded early in the campaign to the Detroit Pistons. In the 2007-2008 season – the first full one without A.I. – Green posted career-highs in games started (74), minutes (26.6), field goals (5.1), rebounds (2.5), assists (2.0), and points per game (12.4), but shot just 28% from distance.
Green played in 81 of the team’s 82 games in the 2008-2009 campaign and started in all six of the team’s playoff games. After Iverson’s return during the following season, Green’s playing time dwindled again, and he was traded to the New Orleans Hornets before the 2010-2011 season.
The shooting guard finished his playing career by suiting up for one year with the Hornets, one with the Atlanta Hawks, two with the Los Angeles Clippers, and then called it quits after the 2014-2015 campaign with the Orlando Magic.
Green Will Take Over a Young, Promising Pelicans Team
Prior to the 2016-2017 season, Green was hired to be a Golden State Warriors assistant coach under Steve Kerr. Green stayed in the Bay Area as an assistant for three years and won two championships – working with future hall-of-fame guards like Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson – and has been with the Suns for the past two seasons, alongside another future hall-of-famer in Chris Paul, not to mention ascending star Devin Booker.
Green will be taking over an intriguing Pelicans squad headlined by 2019 first overall pick Zion Williamson. The former Duke Blue Devil missed most of his first season in the Association due to injury, but bounced back in a big way by averaging 27.0 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 3.7 assists in 61 games this past year.
Williamson was named an All-Star in 2021 as well. The second-most interesting piece on New Orleans is 23-year-old point guard Lonzo Ball, but the older brother of LaMelo Ball is a restricted free agent and there have been rampant rumors that he will go elsewhere this summer.
We’ll see if the Green hiring has any impact on whether Ball is retained for next season.