Magic coach says Howard has asked that he be fired
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP)—Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said Thursday he has been told by high-ranking team officials that star center Dwight Howard has previously asked that he be fired.
“I know he has,” Van Gundy told reporters after the team’s morning shootaround ahead of Thursday night’s matchup with the New York Knicks. “That’s just the way it is. Again, I’ve been dealing with that all year. It’s not anything real bothersome. You go out and do your job.”
Sounds simple—something that’s become rare in Orlando.
The stay-or-go drama surrounding Howard has haunted the Magic all season. After securing Howard’s services for at least another season at the trade deadline last month, Thursday brought the latest wrinkle to the saga.
Howard has denied reports that he has asked for Van Gundy’s dismissal. He again denied it Thursday.
“Whatever happens at the end of the season is not under my control,” Howard told reporters. “I am a player for the Magic. I am not the GM. I am not (owner) Rich DeVos I am not (Magic CEO) Alex Martins. So that’s not my job. So you guys should stop … every other week … trying to find something, because there’s nothing.
“I haven’t said anything to anybody about anything. Our main concern is winning. So all the other stuff should stop.”
Asked how he was sure of a report that has been circulated and repeatedly denied by Howard and other team officials throughout the season, the 52-year-old Van Gundy said he had been told by “people right in our management, right from the top.”
Van Gundy’s normal pregame media availability was canceled Thursday night.
Howard was in the locker room before the game, but didn’t address the issue any further.
Magic reserve guard Ish Smith said he didn’t hear about the morning’s comments by Van Gundy until he arrived in the locker room to get dressed for the game. He said he doesn’t think any internal issues have played into the Magic’s recent losses.
“My mom loves soap operas, so for me to be a part of one is pretty special,” Smith joked. “From the outside I think it looks like (a soap opera), but when you’re on the inside I think it’s no effect on us. I think defensively the last three or four games has been what’s been hurting us. I don’t think anything off the court is causing us to lose these games.”
The whole episode was a definite change in approach by Van Gundy, who is usually mum when it comes to issues dealing with his job status.
The day before the trade deadline last month, Van Gundy himself sidestepped questions about reports that Howard had asked management to jettison both himself and general manager Otis Smith as a condition for him signing a long-term contract extension.
“If they want to fire me to please somebody, fire me,” Van Gundy said at the time.
Van Gundy’s current contract runs through the end of the season. He has guided the Magic to at least 50 wins in each of his four previous seasons and led Orlando to the NBA Finals in 2009.
Howard and Van Gundy have seemingly always been on cordial terms, though he’s sometimes been critical of Van Gundy’s direct and vocal coaching style, which he has previously said can be counterproductive to team morale.
Smith and Van Gundy met during the offseason. The coach left the meeting pledging to tone down some of his intensity during games with both officials and players. So far this season he has yet to receive a technical foul.
Asked this week to address the status of Van Gundy and Smith, Martins said only that both he and Smith will undergo end-of-the-season evaluations, as do all Magic employees.
Stan Van Gundy liberates himself in exposing Dwight Howard’s power play for a new Magic coach
Within the Orlando Magic, there were those suspicious of the possibility that Dwight Howard could’ve played the past two games with so-called back spasms, sources told Yahoo! Sports. Only Howard knows his threshold for pain, but everyone else knows this for a fact: His threshold for criticism is far less, and the possibility of becoming the bad guy for Stan Van Gundy’s eventual dismissal troubled him far more.
Howard has been calling for the firing of Van Gundy since the summer of 2011, a source close to the coach said, and those demands have included the dismissal of general manager Otis Smith, too. The Magic locker room has been divided for most of the season – most siding with Van Gundy, some with Howard, sources say – and it had reached a critical mass with Howard sitting out losses this week to Denver and Detroit.
“The organization has allowed Dwight to set up the coach,” a league source close to management and the coach said. “They have to have a reason to blame someone. If they win, and he gets fired, everyone will know it’s on the player. Losing gives everyone the out when the season’s over, especially Howard.”
So Van Gundy walked into Thursday morning’s shoot-around, a fresh batch of reports surfacing that Howard wants him out, with a decision made in his mind: No more lying. Van Gundy was done playing make-believe. He was done dodging, denying and, yes, lying. He told the truth.
“The only thing that I’m ever uncomfortable with is bull-[expletive],” Van Gundy finally said.
[ Related: Van Gundy drops bombshell with confirmation of report ]
This set off a surreal scene, when an unsuspecting Howard strolled over to his coach, thinking he had dismissed the stories with the organization’s running lie. Only, Howard found out that Van Gundy had liberated himself, told the truth, and left Howard stammering with his empty, embarrassing denials.
Van Gundy had a plan here. He understood that these Magic, losers of four straight, couldn’t go on this way. He wanted it out there: Yes, I’m gone. So stop tanking. Stop trying to get me fired. When the season is over, you’ll get your wish. For now, let’s play. Let’s try to win.
“It was that,” a source close to him said, “or they just fire him, and it’s over.”
Van Gundy walks away with several millions of dollars if he gets fired. He’s no hero here, but he is an honest man on the matter. Ownership has completely lost control here. Privately, Van Gundy believes that ownership gave Howard the power to fire him once he agreed to opt-in for the 2012-’13 season. Howard was as good as gone to New Jersey, had sent word over and over, and backed out in the last 24 hours before the trade deadline.
[ Also: Knicks have big stage, money to lure John Calipari ]
For the first time, Howard realized that he was driving down LeBron Street, realized the criticism that was coming his way for forcing a trade, and he hit the brakes. He slammed it into reverse, turned around and did the one thing that could give him instant gratification: Stay one more year, get a standing ovation in Orlando, and restart this circus next summer.
For the Magic, it is far more important to keep Howard over Van Gundy. It doesn’t matter that Howard will someday regret pulling this power play. It doesn’t matter that Howard hadn’t accomplished much significant until Van Gundy arrived to coach him, push him, and help make him a three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, an NBA Finalist. Van Gundy is great, but you have to pick the star over the coach. Always. Still, you don’t do it this way. Unless Howard decides to sign his five-year extension, he doesn’t get to fire one of the NBA’s five best coaches. If he signs, well, that changes everything. That’s business.
Yet, Howard doesn’t have the courage of convictions, and that got exposed Thursday when he couldn’t simply stand there and say, ‘Yes, I’ve told management that I want someone else coaching the Magic.’ It would’ve been liberating for Van Gundy, the locker room, the franchise, but it wasn’t surprising Howard remained silent, because ownership has created a culture where they’ll constantly cover for him. If he was willing to stay five more years, well, these are flaws that you’d live with for the best center on the planet. That’s basketball. That’s business.
Well, Dwight's just been exposed as being a power hungry bich whose popularity will fall through the cellar floor shortly. There is issues there and every main player has the right to try and make his situation better and conditions as well, but it certainly looks very bad. SVG came right out and said what was going on, the man must be pissed off and rightfully so. Very likely he'll be gone at the end of the season and yes, I'd have him as Warriors coach if he wanted to be here, he has proven winning and success.
In fact, what this situation in Orlando could well mean is that Dwight is gettable, now more than perhaps. Magic FO will certainly try to get him to resign this offseason, probably after firing SVG, and if Dwight declines, they'll look to trade him for the best offer. That means that the Warriors have a chance of getting him, as we have good pieces now. Thing is, do we want that prissy princess type now. He has shown a dark, selfish side to himself and that can be a real factor.
To trade for him though (resigned for at least five years ofcourse), I would give Bogut, though he hasn't even played a game here
1. along with either Lee (getting a salary filler from Orlando as well)
2. or the lottery pick (if we keep it ofcourse) or a future 1st rounder and either AB or RJeff for salary
3. or along with Klay and either the lottry pick or a future 1st rounder and either AB or RJeff for salary
Interesting events happening
Talk about anything general in the NBA here.
migya make the ring fall on ya
I'd still go for him, as I said, resigned and he might come slightly cheaper now after this fiasco. He plays up here, trade him for another great Center and more, you have five years anyway.
Certainly does taint the man alot.
EDIT: What an interview
migya make the ring fall on ya
Does Dwight Howard want to take on the reigns as the NBA's Most Douchy Award (beating out LeBron's 2 time reign)? Seriously, Howard has been playing the media, magic fans, magic management, and SVG all season. Even LeBron didn't do this when he was in Cleveland (and i almost never stand up for LeBron).
Agreed. Dwight Howard was one of my favorite players a couple years ago, and now I don't think I want any part of him. If this is how he acts in one of the better situations (good playoff team, beautiful area, low state taxes) what would he be like here, or in New York??? Amazing how his rep has fallen. If I was Orlando, I would trade him in the off-season. I wouldn't want to deal with another year of this crap, or even worse, sign him to a long-term deal and have to put up with it indefinitely.
Well you two said it well. You know, I would like to think that Dwight is still quite easily the best Center there is and that he'd make the team better, but let's be honest, we really should want no part of him, he is just too out there at the moment and not a positive for a team, especially here with what the new ownership is trying to create.
migya make the ring fall on ya
but players that act like this for a long time will eventually decline. it is almost impossible for a athlete to act selfishly long-term and still be dominant in professional sports. Iverson when from whining about being benched to out of the league in 1 year. He still had a good 3-4 years left.
I think Dwight will calm down, but the damage is done in Orlando. He needs to move. But if howards attitude stays the same, his numbers and productivity will decline.
I do think he'll attitude will only get better, can't really get worse than this. I still don't want him, not right now. He does need to leave Orlando and soon
migya make the ring fall on ya
Almost all the stars are somewhat srrogant. The attention and pressure seems to do that to most. I'd have a superstar here, you really have to if you want to win a championship
migya make the ring fall on ya
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I want a star too, but I still believe there are great players, who still managed to remain "good guys".
Wonder whether Dwight sitting out possibly the rest of the season, heard maybe even playoffs, has anything to do with the recent fiasco. Maybe the Magic FO has either had a private meeting with Dwight that went bad or they just decided to not affiliate him with the team much anymore. If that is the case, they likely won't get the value for him in a trade that they would have now
migya make the ring fall on ya
The Orlando Magic finally part ways with both Stan Van Gundy and GM Otis Smith
By Kelly Dwyer | Ball Don't Lie – 12 hours ago
In a move anticipated by just about everyone, the Orlando Magic have relieved coach Stan Van Gundy of his duties -- a line used in the team's press release that could have applied even when Van Gundy was coaching the team. In more surprising news, the Magic and GM Otis Smith have "parted ways." Smith may or may not have been fired, and if the former is true, it's a bummer of a fallout considering he appeared to adhere to the company line, which meant doing just about anything to keep All-Star center Dwight Howard happy.
There is no question that Howard is to blame for this mess. Smith's personnel misfires — wasting a lottery pick on Fran Vasquez, signing former forward Rashard Lewis to a contract that looked as legendarily bad the day of its inception as it does five years later, attempting to stay afloat by bringing in Howard-approved rotation parts at too high a price — certainly hamstrung the Magic on the court and in the payroll ledger. Howard, though, made sure the team was a living and quacking lame duck once he declined to sign a contract extension (claiming on record that he didn't know one was available, telling lies with a very telling lie) during the 2010-11 season, while complicating things even further with his will-he/won't-he trade demands during this season.
Orlando, frankly, made the right choice in dumping one of the league's finest coaches even if only for a last-ditch attempt to keep an immature and mercurial center. Though pandering to Dwight's whims won't guarantee he'll lead a team to a championship, much less stick around once his contract expires after the end of the 2012-13 season, the other way wasn't going to work. At least not with Van Gundy demanding Howard take responsibility for leading his team. And, at best, hiring a coach as demanding as Stan could kick in some guilt mechanism that turns his attitude around. So who do the Magic turn to?
To start, the team has to figure out if it is as sick of Dwight Howard as the rest of us are.
Though Howard famously demanded a trade prior to the 2011-12 season, he backtracked completely in the hours leading up to the trade deadline out of fear that he wouldn't come off as likable in the wake of a deal (smooth move there, big man), and more significantly the chance that he would be sent to a team (Houston, the Lakers) that he didn't want to play for. As a result, Howard signed a document guaranteeing he'd waive the termination option he had on the last year of his contract -- though he dismissed calls by local media to sign a contract extension that still remains on the table. Same as it ever was, as if we couldn't tell.
With SVG and Smith gone, do the Magic finally sign off on dealing the guy, destination be damned? Most teams are fearful of giving up too much to acquire a player who could leave as a free agent after next season, especially when the trading partner would likely be asked to take on one of Orlando's more onerous contracts. As the offseason wears on, though, teams can talk themselves into anything. We've seen it for years, and there will be options on the table for Orlando's new GM to move Howard. That call, though, has to come from the top — and Magic owner Rich DeVos has long been giving his GMs orders to win now and plan later.
There's no doubt the franchise is sick of Howard's machinations and destructive ways, but with no obvious trading partner on the table (even if the Lakers flame out, would Los Angeles even dangle the younger Andrew Bynum for a player in Howard that has made it clear — weirdly — that he doesn't want to play with Kobe Bryant?) and a Magic roster that will be a bear to try and break up (there are too many tough contracts to move, even while using Howard as bait), it looks as if the team will have to attempt to give retaining Dwight one more try.
Then, as it was when Van Gundy squeezed every last drop out of the rosters Smith gave him, hiring a great coach becomes paramount.
Rumors abound that Indiana Pacers assistant (and former Magic guard) Brian Shaw could be that guy. Sports Illustrated's Sam Amick said as much on Twitter on Monday afternoon, and the one-time Phil Jackson would-be successor certainly has the pedigree and know-how to work as the lead man on a championship team. Amick also reported that Golden State defensive guru (stop laughing) Mike Malone could be in the running. Malone is less of a flashier name, but his defensive acumen is widely respected, and he recently interviewed for the top post in Charlotte.
Both names would demand just as much from Howard as Van Gundy, and if the Magic are going fully in the tank for their superstar, you might see them decide to go for a coach with a more lilting approach. That said, even someone as oblivious and self-absorbed as Howard knows that he's the cause of this upheaval, even if he complains to associates about Van Gundy publicly detailing Howard's request that the team fire Stan last month. He could feel a pang of guilt and actually attempt to lead a Magic team and back off personnel requests.
Even with Howard's influence, everything starts at the top for the Magic. Their decision on Dwight will change the way they look at hiring the next personnel boss, and the team's next coach. If ownership is sick of Howard, and convinced that they can't keep him past 2013, then they'll go for an expert at cleaning house, like former Pacers and Knicks GM Donnie Walsh, and a head coach who will attempt to be as much of an asset as Stan Van Gundy was — while potentially trading Howard this summer so to avoid another season like this.
Van Gundy is out, though, which might be a clear indication that the Magic are still being swayed by the lure of Dwight Howard putting pen to paper on a contract extension.
In the interim -- enjoy your summer, Stan and Otis. In two completely different ways, you've fully earned your respective vacations.
As was expected.
migya make the ring fall on ya
yep... howard got his way... and still probably will be leaving their soon.
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