A decision on the fate of Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy is not expected today, according to a league source, as the Magic’s front office undertakes a review of the just-completed season that is likely to take a few days.
The Magic’s season was overwhelmed by the trade demand of franchise player Dwight Howard, and his on-again, off-again desire to remain with the team. Howard ultimately decided to “opt in” for the final year of his current contract, 2012-13, rather than opt out in July and become an unrestricted free agent.
But his relationship with Van Gundy was ruptured after the coach disclosed to reporters after an April shootaround that someone in Orlando’s management had told Van Gundy that Howard wanted him fired. That disclosure came seconds before Howard, trying to quell rumors that the two didn’t get along, came up to Van Gundy and put an arm around him.
Howard missed the Magic’s last regular-season games and all of Orlando’s first-round playoff series loss to Indiana after undergoing back surgery in Los Angeles April 20 to repair a herniated disc.
The Magic thus have to reach a decision on whether to keep Van Gundy, who has a 290-163 record (including playoffs) in five seasons as head coach, while also trying to determine how the Howard situation will be resolved. Orlando will not have a repeat of this past season, however; Howard will be dealt in the offseason if the Magic determine he does not want to stay long-term. Several teams, most notably the Nets, want him.
The Magic made The Finals in 2009 under Van Gundy, who stressed defense and half-court execution on offense with great success, with the emerging Howard becoming the league’s best center.
But Van Gundy’s demanding, relentless style soon became an issue for Howard and other players. General manager Otis Smith told Van Gundy he had to ease up and be more positive, and Van Gundy made a great effort to do so the last couple of years. But Orlando has not been able to get back near the top, losing in the first round each of the last two seasons.
The Magic traditionally take time after the season to make major decisions. Smith does not conduct the postseason “exit interviews” with players that most teams have, figuring everyone knows what happened during the year and needs time away from one another to decompress.