The New Orleans Pelicans’ NBA G-League affiliate, the Erie BayHawks, has its head coach.
Ryan Pannone, most recently an assistant on the Pels’ summer league coaching staff, takes the first chair in Erie after building an impressive national and international coaching profile.
Another summer league assistant, former New Orleans Hornets guard Greivis Vasquez, was named associate head coach.
Mery Andrade and TJ Saint were also tabbed as assistants.
Pannone is known for his focus on player development. Last season, while serving as an assistant for the Israeli club Hapoel Jerusalem, he talked about his route to coaching; starting out as a 20-year old intern to a local coach with a few clients who were preparing for the NBA.
“To me, player development and team coaching are connected,” he told “Inside the BCL” (Basketball Champions League). “Player development wins games. You can run the best set to get a player an open shot off a screen, but if the player doesn’t have the right footwork, good balance and many of the other tiny factors that can come into play in player development, his chances of making the shot decrease significantly.”
That philosophy is right in tune with that of David Griffin and his front office team. With so many young players on the current roster and the potential bevy of draft picks to come over the next few seasons, coupled with the coming influx of players straight from high school, the ability to enhance displayed skills and improving others is essential.
Pannone won’t just be looking to improve his newly minted pros; his focus is comprehensive.
“Player development is often thought of in relation to younger guys on the team but player development really applies to every player on the team. How do you make every guy better? ”
Over the past few years, Pannone has been an assistant in China, Germany, and Korea. In 2017-18, he was head coach of BC Prievidza of Slovakia, and in 2014-15 he served as an assistant for the BayHawks under David Thorpe, the coach who gave him his start as an intern.
The staff is filled out with coaches in that same mold; a focus on development and with international experience.
Greivis Vasquez reintroduced himself to New Orleans basketball on the staff of the Pelicans’ summer league team. The 28th overall selection in the 2010 draft, Vasquez played for six teams over seven seasons. He was a member of the New Orleans Hornets from 2011-13, appearing in 144 games while averaging 11.6 points, 7.4 assists, and 3.5 rebounds. In 2012-13, while with the Hornets, Vasquez led the NBA in total assists and finished second in the voting for most improved player.
In 2007, he played as a member of the Venezuelan national team at the FIBA America Championships.
Mery Andrade, a native of Portugal, spent the last four seasons as an assistant women’s basketball coach at the University of San Diego.
After an outstanding collegiate career at Old Dominion, Andrade played five seasons in the WNBA and for more than a decade overseas, in Italy and Portugal.
TJ Saint joins the BayHawks after serving as the Director of Basketball Strategy for the University of Georgia in 2018-19. He has four seasons of experience at the NBA level from his time with the Detroit Pistons as video coordinator from 2014-18.
On the court, Saint was Detroit’s lead coach for pre-draft workouts, a coach for free agent mini camps and an assistant coach on the Pistons’ Summer League teams.
David Griffin has said that he wants Swiss Army knives in the Pelicans organization, people who can handle multiple tasks and fill multiple roles.
This latest round of hires adds to the overwhelming pile of evidence of just how committed he is to that principle.