The Orlando Magic have decided to part ways with both their enigmatic Coach Stan Van Gundy, and scapegoat GM Otis Smith. (Technically Van Gundy was fired and Smith agreed to step down)
The moves come as no surprise to most and gives the organization enough time to find replacements before the NBA Draft on June 28 and the opening of free agency on July 1.
An excerpt from the official press release graciously thanks both men for their service to the organization:
(ORLANDO, FL) — Orlando Magic Chief Executive Officer Alex Martins announced today that Stan Van Gundy has been relieved of his duties as head coach. In addition President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Otis Smith and the organization have mutually agreed to part ways.
“On behalf of the DeVos Family, we sincerely appreciate and thank Otis and Stan for all that they have done on and off the floor for the Orlando Magic,” said Martins. “These are the days you dread in this business, but we feel it’s time for new leadership and new voices.
“They both brought die-hard dedication and an unmatched work ethic on a daily basis,” added Martins. “Their success is well documented, as the Orlando Magic has had the fourth best record in the NBA over the last five years, and entering the playoffs this year the third most playoff wins over that period of time. The disappointment of getting eliminated in the first round of the playoffs these past two seasons played a primary role in our decision, as we feel our momentum towards winning a championship has paused. We wish Otis and Stan all the best and we look forward to taking the next step towards winning that championship.
CEO of the Magic, Alex Martins, gave a press conference shortly after the release to the media.
In the press conference Martins acknowledged that the relationship between Van Gundy and Dwight Howard was challenging. He said that Van Gundy was a great “strategist” but “other things” were necessary to lead the Magic going forward.
When asked what those other things were regarding Van Gundy, Martins eluded to the fact that they want their next coach (and GM) to have championship experience as well as have better relationships with players and administration.
Martins went on to say that at no time did Howard ask him to fire Van Gundy. Martins made that point at least 3 times during the presser which probably means he was trying to sound as convincing as possible to save Howard some slack for Van Gundy’s dismissal.
According to Martins the team will look to secure a GM first before finding a coach. That process will begin tomorrow and he would not elude to any potential names for candidates at this time.
The organization now awaits word from Howard on his potential contract extension. Martins said that they are in negotiations with Howard’s team and he would like a decision sooner than later but there was no set time frame.
Orlando wants to give Howard time to process this debacle and give his input towards the direction the team will now lean towards.
There is little doubt that the Magic will remain competitive but finding a championship level coach and GM after the season they just had both internally and publicly seems like a long shot at best.
This was just the beginning of a drama filled off-season for the Magic. Stay tuned.
About the Author
Written by Warren Shaw
I am an avid Basketball fan who has worked for the New York Knicks, Alonzo Mourning Charities and various other sports organizations. Having covered many NBA and various professional sporting events has given me the opportunity to provide insight with an unbiased but flavor driven view. I look forward to providing NBA content and interacting with knowledgeable fans and readers. Follow me on Twitter @shawsports or Email your questions to me at Warrenshaw@prosportsblogging.com