Dwight Howard and Stan Van Gundy, working together (Getty Images)
Remember the big smiles Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy gave us at the press conference announcing Dwight Howard's intention to waive his early termination option, and sign with the Magic for the 2012-13 season? No? Because Van Gundy wasn't there for that joke of an "announcement"? And have you read the news spiraling out of the sources of a small pond's big fish down in Orlando, about how Howard wants SVG and his staff gone this summer, once this miserable season ends? Yes?
Do a healthy portion of reputable Orlando folk want to disabuse us of the notion of listening to "Local 6 Sports Director David Pingalore" when he tells us that in "order for Dwight Howard to sign a contract extension this summer with the Orlando Magic, team owners will have to fire head coach Stan Van Gundy, as well as his coaching staff"?Sure. Are we guilty of believing that where there's smoke, there's fire? Of course.
But does it make sense that Howard wants absolutely nothing to do with Van Gundy, his staff and his expectations? Definitely. SVG has been Howard's coach for nearly five years now, and while the two have never openly feuded, Van Gundy's exacting style can wear on a soul. A soul that doesn't want to be held accountable. Howard wants to be liked, as much as he wants to win, and it's becoming clearer that the Orlando Magic and Dwight Howard don't deserve a coach as great as Stan Van Gundy.
Pingalore did speak with Magic owner Rich DeVos before moving ahead with his report, and DeVos tried to make it clear that Howard wouldn't be acting as Orlando's assistant GM. Though we'll be the first to tell you that the team's real GM, Otis Smith, could use the help. Here's DeVos' take:
"He's not going to dictate what is going to happen," DeVos said. "We talked to him about it and the mistake that we made is that we didn't talk to him about his preferences.
"He can't make those decisions and choices," DeVos added. "We will make those, but we will let him know what we are making and we want his opinion on what fits and doesn't fit."
If DeVos and Howard are harboring unrealistic expectations of a team that has somehow created a 49-win pace (during a typical season) out of this mismatched roster, then they're in for a rude awakening once Van Gundy says goodbye. And though Stan has devoted quite a bit to the organization, it's clear that he needs to move on from the Magic. He has one year left on his contract, and he shouldn't be asked to deal with Howard's whims in 2012-13, as Dwight replays his free-agent drama. At the very least, Van Gundy shouldn't be asked to try and make a rotation player out of Glen Davis (who did go off in Howard's absence on Tuesday), or try to gain home-court advantage in the playoffs with a team featuring Ryan Anderson as its second-best player.
There really isn't any reason why a coach as good as Stan Van Gundy should be forced into a media meet-up like this, as we saw following the Magic's loss to the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday.
Dwight Howard, for once, is right. Van Gundy should go. To a team more deserving of his talent.
- Dwight Howard
- Orlando Magic
- Stan Van Gundy