The Orlando Magic have chosen to part ways with head coach Stan Van Gundy and general manager Otis Smith. In five seasons at the helm in Orlando, Van Gundy posted a 259-135 (.657) record, and made the playoffs every year. A highlight was the Magic’s 2009 NBA Finals appearance, where they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in five games.
Smith was named Orlando’s full-time general manager on May 3rd, 2006, a season in which the team also reached the postseason.
The move, which comes 13 days after the Magic were eliminated by the Pacers in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, could be just the beginning of a rebuilding period in Orlando.
Orlando’s season was overshadowed by the surreal events involving superstar center Dwight Howard and his demands to betraded, with the peak of the dysfunction coming on April 5th. Van Gundy, speaking in a press conference before a game against the Knicks, revealed that Howard asked upper management to have him fired. Towards the end of Van Gundy’s press conference, Howard — unaware of the subject matter being discussed — came into the conference and placed his arm around Van Gundy, and then denied the report.
Just three weeks prior, Howard had waffled on waiving the Early Termination Option in his contract. Without knowing his intentions related to seeking free agency, Orlando would not have been able to effectively gauge Howard’s trade value and make the best deal for their franchise. Just before the NBA trade deadline on March 15th, Howard finally agreed to waive the option, keeping him in Orlando for 2012-13.
Howard may be under contract for next season, but it would not be surprising if the Magic want to make a clean break and deal him. A factor that influences the trade picture is that Howard had back surgery at the end of this season, missing the playoffs.
Should Orlando try to unload him now, or see if he can come back and produce, which would also improve his trade value? Share your thoughts!