Monty Williams has been fired as head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans, the team announced today.

Williams, 43, served as head coach the last 5 seasons in New Orleans, making playoff appearances in his first and last season, accumulating an overall record of 173-221.

“Making a decision like this is never easy and is never done hastily, especially when you are dealing with a person of Monty Williams’ character. We thanked Monty for the tremendous work and commitment he made to our organization and the development of our young players, specifically Anthony Davis,” said Pelicans executive VP Mickey Loomis in a prepared statement. “While we continue to work towards improving our roster, we decided that now was the time to make this decision. We wish nothing but the best for Monty in the future.”

Williams' first season as head coach of the New Orleans Hornets came when the team was sold by owner George Shinn to the NBA in December of 2010. Superstar Chris Paul was on the roster, and the team was talented enough to compete in the Western Conference, but Paul didn't want to stick around with the future of the franchise up in the air, forcing his way out in a trade before the following season.

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

After a rough year 2 in New Orleans, the Hornets were in better footing, finding new ownership in Tom Benson, and using the number one overall pick in the following draft to select Anthony Davis.

“I have the utmost respect for Monty Williams, not only as a coach but as a person,” said Benson in a released statement. “He represented our team, our organization and our city with tremendous class and dignity. Gayle and I grew very fond of Monty and his wife Ingrid and of course their five beautiful children. We wish him nothing but the best moving forward.”

After three seasons with multiple injuries to key players, Williams finally led the Pelicans into the playoffs this year at 45-37, earning the final spot in the West on the last night of the regular season.

Some felt that, coupled with potential continuity would keep Williams around since he was under contract next season, with a team option in 2016-17.

According to Yahoo sports reporter Adrian Wojnarowski, general manager Dell Demps has been fighting for more control and forced out Williams. Demps did not hire Williams, as he was hired as GM several months after Williams signed with New Orleans in 2010.

“We thank Monty for his dedication and leadership to our team both on and off the court," said Pelicans general manager Dell Demps in a statement. "He served as a great role model for our young team and worked tirelessly towards the development of all of our players. We endured a lot of change during the past season and Monty was a steady influence in our locker room. We wish him and his family nothing but the best.”

Demps is scheduled to meet with the media today at 3:00.

The coaching search begins immediately.

Names such as Kentucky head coach John Calipari, former Hornets assistant and Phoenix Suns head coach Alvin Gentry, current Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Ettore Messina will all likely be mentioned by the media in coming days.

A young superstar in Anthony Davis, minus the giant media spotlight one would get in a big NBA market are several appealing factors for the next head coach.

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