Sources: Pelicans target Celtics' Darren Erman for Alvin Gentry's staff

ByMarc Stein ESPN logo
Tuesday, June 2, 2015

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The New Orleans Pelicans are in advanced negotiations to hire Darren Erman away from the Boston Celtics to serve as a defensive guru under new head coach Alvin Gentry, according to league sources.

Sources told that Erman, who was quickly snapped up by the Celtics after his controversial ouster in Golden State late in the 2013-14 season, has been targeted by the Pelicans as an ideal addition to an all-new coaching staff because of his defensive expertise to complement Gentry's offensive creativity.

Gentry, in his first season as the Golden State Warriors' associate head coach alongside Steve Kerr, was hired Saturday by the Pelicans to replace the ousted Monty Williams. He will stay with the Warriors through the NBA Finals before formally joining the Pelicans.

After the profound impact he had on team defenses -- both with the Celtics in his first Boston stint and with the Warriors under Mark Jackson -- Erman is regarded as one of the league's brighter young defensive minds. When he worked for the Celtics the first time around, he was a coaching assistant for four seasons, working heavily in player development and advanced scouting on Doc Rivers' staff before leaving to join the Warriors.

He was fired by the Warriors in April 2014 for what was termed a "violation of company policy" that was later revealed to besecretly recording conversations between the team's coaches and players.

Yet Erman is held in such high esteem by Celtics officials that he was almost immediately rehired by Boston as NBA director of scouting. In July, Erman was quickly moved onto Celtics coach Brad Stevens' bench to essentially serve as the Celtics' defensive coordinator to replace the highly respected Ron Adams, who had been poached from the Celtics by Golden State's Kerr.

"I think it's been pretty well documented, [Erman] did a great job," Stevens said. "He's very well respected. He has a lot of great ability as a coach and, certainly, he's a guy that I'm very fond of and hope the best for."

Added Celtics director of player personnel Austin Ainge: "[Erman is] a great guy and we'll miss him. ... I know they are in discussions; I don't know if anything is final. But Erman is a great guy, and if he does leave, we'll miss him."

Stevens said he won't rush a decision on how to fill vacancies on his staff.

"I've done it pretty much every summer I've been a coach," said Stevens, who shuffled Erman onto his staff after Ron Adams departed to be an assistant in Golden State last summer. "If you've got a good staff, you're going to lose them at times. And that's great. It's great for the opportunity for upward mobility for your staff and for your environment. I think that's a positive feel when guys get a chance to move on, grow, and do other things. I think that's all good. I'll take my time in figuring out what's next. I'm in no rush, certainly."

No deal with the Pelicans has been finalized yet, sources said, but Erman was in New Orleans on Monday to discuss the job.

ESPN Celtics reporter Chris Forsberg contributed to this report.