Whether center Dwight Howard asked for it or not, Stan Van Gundy is out as coach of the Orlando Magic — and general manager Otis Smith, too.
Those two were at the helm of one of the franchise’s most successful eras, an era that in recent years has been marred by a tumultuous relationship between Van Gundy and Howard, its perennial all-star center. In fact, the relationship reached a peculiar stage when, prior to the playoffs, Van Gundy claimed, without prompting, that Howard had requested to the team’s hiearchy that Van Gundy be fired.
Howard denied doing so, but soon after was sidelined with back troubles. Orlando went on to lose to Philadelphia in the first round. Turns out, that was Van Gundy’s and Smith’s final competition with the Magic.
“It’s time for a new leadership and a new approach,” Magic CEO Alex Martins said at a news conference to discuss the moves. “We simply came to the decision that we were not on the right track.”
Martins added: “At no time during that time did Dwight ask me to have Stan fired.”
No replacements have been named, but Martins said the hope is to have a new general manager in place by the NBA Draft in late June.
There has been much speculation about Howard. He vacillated much of the season on whether he would accept a trade. The latest is that he does not want to return a Orlando.