May 21, 2012
If you have seen what has been going on with the Orlando Magic over the course of this NBA season, it is no surprise that the Magic have decided to part ways with head coach Stan Van Gundy and general manager Otis Smith. I think we all saw this move coming and to be honest, I’m surprised that the firing of Van Gundy didn’t happen as soon as the team got bounced from the playoffs by the Indiana Pacers in the first round. It was clear that Van Gundy didn’t want to be there any longer and didn’t care if he was fired. All of the drama involving center Dwight Howard and whether or not he was going to be with the team long term was turning the franchise into a poisonous environment. When you throw in all of the speculation about how Howard said he wouldn’t return to the Magic if Van Gundy was still the coach (a rumor that Howard and Magic CEO Alex Martins deny), and I think Van Gundy just lost it and got frustrated. To be honest, I can’t blame Van Gundy for feeling the way he did and his true feelings came out. It’s amazing to me that other Magic players didn’t get upset the same way Van Gundy did, especially when you had Howard openly criticizing them and saying he could see himself playing with numerous other teams instead of staying in Orlando. I want to say this about Van Gundy. I have been a man who has criticized Van Gundy on numerous occasions. I’ve even said things such as Van Gundy is just a good regular season coach. But for him to lead his team into the playoffs in a year full of distractions, I have to give him credit for keeping that thing together. Let’s be honest, Van Gundy was a lame duck coach and he was going to be gone one way or another. It’s apparent that the Magic want to do everything in their power to get Howard to stay and they want to make that as easy as possible. If that meant that the GM and the coach had to go, then ownership was going to do that. They know that the future of this franchise rest on the broad shoulders of Howard and his status. No matter what the Magic try to do, I still think that Howard will end up leaving the team as will. Until I see him sign a long term deal to stay there, I just see Howard signing with another team. I also think that all the drama that we saw this season will be replayed next season. Whoever takes the job as the Magic’s next head coach and GM should be prepared to inherit a mess, which is why I think it may be a while before we hear about these positions being filled. I just don’t think anyone who takes these jobs want to be an a potential situation where Howard leaves and it turn into a huge rebuilding process. I know this. The Magic management has began the cleaning house process. Depending on the status of Howard, that process may only be in their beginning stages.
By Charles Taylor