Van Gundy was fired after the Pelicans went 31-41 in his lone season because the group’s head coach. Hart, in the meantime, waded into restricted free company after having missed the group’s ultimate 25 video games with a hand damage. Nonetheless, he was hopeful that he would obtain curiosity from groups across the league. These profitable gives by no means materialized. He wound up signing a three-year extension with New Orleans. The deal may very well be price as a lot as $38 million, but it surely comes with an enormous caveat: Solely the primary yr is assured.
“I do know it’s very simply tradable,” Hart mentioned, “in order that’s at all times at the back of your thoughts.”
Hart had been hoping for extra safety, and, for the primary time in his grownup life, he took a break from basketball over the summer time. He received married. He spent a while away from the sport, banking on the assumption that distance would give him recent perspective. He additionally started getting ready to play for one more head coach — his fourth in 5 seasons. Hart acknowledged that biking by way of so many philosophies and administration kinds can take a toll on a younger participant, particularly one looking for his area of interest.
“Some coaches are optimistic, and a few are damaging,” he mentioned. “Some maintain it actual with you, and a few sort of don’t.”
Hart mentioned he was nonetheless feeling “skeptical” about his place within the group when he met Inexperienced for the primary time over dinner earlier than the beginning of coaching camp. Inexperienced, a former assistant with the Warriors and the Suns, mentioned he approached the assembly with an agenda. First, he needed to pay attention: What had occurred with Hart over the summer time? What had been his frustrations? How might he assist? Second, he needed to convey that he liked Hart’s aggressive nature — “He has made each group he’s performed for higher,” Inexperienced mentioned — and seen him as a pacesetter.
“I walked away feeling inspired that he wasn’t going to restrict me or put me in a field, that he was going to let me play the sport the way in which I like to play it,” Hart mentioned. “For a basketball participant, that’s what you need to hear — that you’ve the arrogance of your coach.”
Hart is assembling his most full season as a professional, averaging 13.1 factors, 7.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists whereas taking pictures a career-best 51.5 % from the sector.
“I consider in them,” Inexperienced mentioned of his gamers. “Even when it doesn’t look nice, I do know we’ll get there.”