Ex Orland Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy
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The Stan Van Gundy era came to an end in Orlando on Monday when the Orlando Magic fired their coach. The firing has to be both a blessing and a curse for Van Gundy. He doesn’t have a job but at the same time he no longer has to deal with Dwight Howard drama. Van Gundy and the Magic’s star center Dwight Howard have been feuding all year both behind the scenes and in front of the media. Their were rumors that Howard was calling for Van Gundy’s firing by the middle of this past season. Even though Magic front office staff had confirmed those rumors, Howard has repeatedly denied such allegations. Well Monday it came to pass and Van Gundy was gone, whether it was due to the pressure Howard put on the Magic is hard to say.
Stan Van Gundy came to the Magic in 2007. He was essentially a back up plan when the Florida Gators head coach signed with the Orlando Magic and then 5 days later quit and went back to the Gators. There have been a lot of ups and downs for the team during Van Gundy’s tenure. Van Gundy leaves the Magic with a 259-135 record and a 31-28 record in the playoffs. He was with the team for a total of 5 seasons. The Magic made it all the way to the NBA Finals in 2009, only to fall victim quickly to the Los Angeles Lakers. The Magic also made an Eastern Conference Finals appearance in 2010 losing the series 4-2 to the Boston Celtics.
The timing is very strange to me though, with the NBA Draft is coming up next month. The Magic need to find their new head coach and they need to find him soon. It is imperative to have a new coach in time to have him on board for the draft and helping the team set for in a new and hopefully successful direction.
This next season will be a very interesting and probably very stressful on for the Orland Magic. Dwight Howard’s contract is up at the end of the season. The Magic will definitely want to either sign Howard or trade him away. The Magic almost traded Howard this past season when it was unclear whether he would accept his team option for another season to close out his contract. The Magic have never forgotten the situation Shaq put them in after the 1996 season. Shaq left the team for The Lakers and the Magic got nothing in return due to the fact Shaq was a free agent.
Howard is a fantastic player and has potential to be an NBA Finals MVP. Howard will however need to tone down the drama that plagued last season in order for that to be possible. He would need to make a decision and resign or have the team deal him away way before the trade deadline if he wants to contend for the NBA Championship this season. One has to hope that with Van Gundy gone Howard can focus more on the court and lead the Magic the way he has shown himself capable of doing.
So will we see Dwight Howards final game with the Magic this year or the continuation of the good career he has had with the Magic. Is a championship in the Magic’s future? I think Dwight Howard’s season and decision has a lot to do with the answer to that question.
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Its official Howard has formally waived his rights to free agency at the end of this season and will remain on contract through the 2012-2013 season. The Drama has ended for now. We will have to see whether he signs a longer term deal in the next year or if this will happen all over again next year. For the Magics sake I hope this gets resolved on a longer term basis soon.
The Magic can for now focus on the rest of the season. They are strong contenders in the Eastern Conference and will remain so going into next season regardless how this season ends. It is unknown if they will be able to acquire a NBA title this year but is still a strong possibility. How they end up ending this season would have to be a major factor on whether Dwight will want to stay in Orlando for the future. The team might still need to address the depth issue that Howard has long had a problem with though.
I will be reporting on the Magic and other teams around the NBA going into and through the playoffs so keep checking back for more news.
The year is 1996 and the Orlando Magic are coming off 2 incredible post seasons, the later of which they lost to the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference Championship. Heading into the off season the Magic were certain that the services of free agent Shaq would be obtainable yet again. Hence the reason they did not trade him in the final year of his deal during the 1995-1996 season. Little did they know he would get swept away by Los Angeles Lakers who that same summer acquired rookie Kobe Bryant in the first round of the draft. That Lakers Team would go on to win three NBA titles.
Now flash forward to the present day Orlando Magic and there star player Dwight Howard. Going into this season one that could be his last with the season depending on if he opts into his contract that would have if stay until the end of next season, he made it clear he would like to go somewhere else. Possibly to Dallas or the team from New Jersey that will be in Brooklyn next season. He claims the team has done nothing in terms of acquiring new players for him to win a championship with. He has handled this contract situation worse than Lebron handled leaving Cleveland and that is saying a lot.
He has been flip flopping over the last 24 hours. Saying he would on his final year on his contract then retracted his statement and realized he did not want to give up that control. The Magic at that point told him that if he does not opt in he is going elsewhere and would be doing so on Thursday the last day of the trade deadline at 3pm EST. The Magic have the disaster of losing Shaq while getting nothing in return fresh in their minds still and will not let that go down again. In the last few hours it has been reported that he is in fact willing to opt in and stay with the team but as I write this we are 2 and 1/2 hours from the deadline and nothing is yet done.
We will be finding out really soon what the fate of Dwight Howard and the Magic will be. If he stays it is possible there could be a Championship banner hanging up at the venue formerly known as the “Orena” next year. There also could be no Dwight Howard and the drama and distraction he has brought to the Orland Magic this season. Regardless of what happens today it is safe to say this is a event that will not only effect the future of a star player but a franchise as well.