“It’s a typical lack of understanding from someone who has no sports knowledge, who has never coached or played, who has never been in a lockeroom….it’s a naivete,” Van Gundy said of Martins Monday morning on Mike Bianchi’s show on 740 AM.
“….I’ll stand on the relationships with players based on the results we got.
“I think Alex’s comments are based on the fact that Dwight and maybe others didn’t like me…and thinking somehow that’s important.”
Nobody will ever nominate Van Gundy for a post in the diplomatic corp, so the fact that he’s been forthcoming and blunt in the aftermath of being let go by the Magic is hardly shocking. Truth is, in a world of professional sports that has become increasingly corporate, clandestine and, frankly, often quite boring, StanVan and his willingness to react like an exposed nerve end is as welcome as a cleansing summer rain.
Who can forget the scene last spring when Van Gundy had just finished telling a throng of reporters that Howard had asked to have him fired just before the disgruntled center walked up and placed an arm around his shoulder to act buddy-buddy?
Practically from the start of the public unraveling of the Dwight Howard era in Orlando, Stan Van Gundy didn’t pull many punches about his view on the deterioration between the Magic’s former All-Star big man and the powers that be (including himself). Perhaps no interview summed up Van Gundy’s honest view on the situation than his awkward-yet-telling pre-practice interview in April where he revealed that reports of Howard wanting him fired were true (which were then followed by Howard awkwardly sidling up to and being chummy with Van Gundy … and then having to deny Van Gundy’s statements to the media).
How do you feel about the fallout from everything that has happened in Orlando? Are you frustrated? Relieved?
“Well I’d like to have a job. That’d be nice. That’s not a great feeling. We just got caught up in a bad situation and our organization didn’t handle it very well. Because of that I would say we probably deserve a lot of what happened as an organization and certainly not the other players. I thought those guys…I felt badly for them, a group that worked hard and was very professional all year long and didn’t deserve everything that happened, but from our organization especially the people at the very top it just wasn’t handled very well, so you get what you deserve.”
Did you go home and say I can’t believe how bizarre this is being played out with Dwight Howard?
“No. Not really. Look there’s always something going on in the NBA. I think when you are in the season you are just sort of dealing with things day-to-day and the next practice and the next game and everything else, so no there is always issues. That was our issue this year and we dealt with it. Quite honestly we were dealing with it very well with everything that was going on until Dwight Howard went out and obviously we lost our best player. We were playing very well. We had the 3rd best record in the East and the 5th best record in the league and we’re playing well. Then when he [Dwight Howard] went down quite honestly we struggled. He was sort of our guy and we didn’t play as well after that, but I thought we were still pretty competitive in everything else. It wasn’t as bad inside our team and inside the locker room as it was out in the media.”
HANG TIME NEW JERSEY –Dwight Howard is now a member of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Which means that he’s not a member of the Brooklyn Nets, and probably won’t ever be. What seemed like an inevitability on multiple occasions is now very unlikely.
The Nets had angled for Howard for a period of seven months, offering various packages that centered around 24 year-old Brook Lopez, cap relief, and multiple draft picks. Their first push came at the conclusion of the lockout, using their cap space to offer the Magic a ton of long-term salary relief. No deal.
Then, at the trade deadline in March, the Nets were ready again. And all along, it was clear that Howard’s top choice was to join Deron Williams in Brooklyn. But sometimes, players don’t get what they want. And Howard botched the plan by waiving his early termination option just hours before the Magic would have been forced to make a deal.
Perhaps he thought at the time that he could go to the playoffs with the Magic and get the trade he wanted in the summer. But then he got hurt, Otis Smith was fired, and when the Nets pushed for a trade again last month, new Magic general manager Rob Hennigan said “no thanks.”
HANG TIME CAPITAL BUREAU – Despite Magic All-NBA center Dwight Howard’s desire to be traded to the Brooklyn Nets, there is currently nothing on the table from Brooklyn that interests Orlando, and there’s little likelihood of a deal between the teams, according to a league source involved in the discussions.
The Nets are going forward with their plans to rebuild their team without Howard, working diligently to acquire guard Joe Johnson from the Atlanta Hawks, and will proceed with that and other moves even if they can’t convince guard Deron Williams to re-sign there, according to a league source. But Brooklyn is hopeful that Williams will want to play with a revamped team that includes Johnson and a re-signed Gerald Wallace and Brook Lopez. Wallace agreed to a four-year, $40 million deal over the weekend, and the Nets hope they can keep Lopez as well.
The Nets “are not going to wait” for a Howard deal, the source said.
The Magic’s previous management team had been working on a Howard deal with the Nets for months, but those proposed offers included Lopez as the centerpiece of the potential package, as well as future Draft picks. And Orlando never agreed to those proposals, either, leading Howard to vacillate before deciding to “opt in” for the 2012-13 season and honor the final year of his contract. Howard reiterated his desire to be traded to the Nets in a meeting with Orlando’s new GM, Rob Hennigan, last week. Over the weekend, Howard denied reports that he felt “blackmailed” by the Magic into opting in for next season. Hennigan said in a meeting with local reporters that he wanted players on the Magic “who want to be here,” which would, seemingly, not include Howard.
The Magic fired former GM Otis Smith and former coach Stan Van Gundy after the team’s first-round playoff loss to Indiana. Orlando has just begun the search process for a new coach to replace Van Gundy, who took the team to the Finals in 2009.
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – You had to know this story wasn’t going to have a happy ending.
Magic center Dwight Howard has made sure of it, now that he’s finally broken his silence about the bizarre turn of events surrounding his future with the organization that drafted him and the one he is demanding he be traded to. All indications for the latter is Brooklyn, even though Howard still refuses to say it publicly.
“I never used the word blackmail in reference to any of my dealings with the Magic,” Howard said. “I never said that. It’s defamatory and it’s inaccurate. I know what blackmail means and any report that I used the term incorrectly is inaccurate.”
Howard met with new Magic general manager Rob Hennigan on Friday in Los Angeles, and said he told Hennigan of his desire to be traded. However, Howard insisted he was merely repeating a position he had made clear to Magic officials since waiving his ETO in March.
“This was not the first time [that I asked for trade],” Howard said. “I communicated this to [Magic president] Alex [Martins] and [former general manager] Otis [Smith] way before Friday that I wanted to be traded – months before this meeting with Rob Hennigan. That was all way before Stan [Van Gundy] got fired.”
Howard’s bottom-line declaration that the Magic trade him now, to the unspecified team on “his list,” or play out the season and watch him walk away in free agency after the season leaves all involved in the same position they’ve been in for months.
It also guarantees that the divorce between Howard, the Magic and the city of Orlando will be as nasty as anything we’ve seen in recent years. That list includes the nasty split between LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Let the Orlando Magic be the cautionary tale for any team embracing change, on their roster, this time of year.
Roster building in the NBA is a living and breathing thing, one that requires constant attention but not necessarily constant action. The Magic know this better than most, having not only flipped their roster several times in the past eight years but also swapping out the people in charge of roster building more than most.
But as Schmitz points out, the Magic are not exactly experiencing change anyone can believe in right now:
The casualties so far include one CEO, one head coach, six assistant coaches, one GM, one assistant GM, six scouts and one player-development director.
An entire basketball operations department could go on Craigslist.
The Magic have fired so many folks, they’re making Donald Trump look benevolent.
The 30-year-old kid in the hall, freshly appointed GM Rob Hennigan, whacked the last eight himself after taking the job last week. We probably can stop the concerns whether his tender youth might cloud his decision-making, so my last crack about Rob’s age will be the fact he no longer will be allowed to sit on Santa’s lap at the mall.
It’s a new launch for the Magic, and frustrated fans have no choice but to embrace the unknown. They’ll be saluting or blaming strangers, beginning with tonight’s draft, and that seems perfectly fine with the faithful now that Otis Smith isn’t near a contract and a pen anymore.
And the biggest change hasn’t even happened yet, speaking of Dwight Howard.
Hennigan fielded more questions Wednesday about Howard’s future than whom he might pick at No. 19.
Hennigan deflected the inquiries like a hockey goalie, including mine: What are the chances Dwight will be traded Thursday night?
“You know what? I don’t want to comment on that,” Hennigan said. “We’re going to continue to evaluate everything we can, analyze all the details, any options and scenarios. I don’t know the answer to that.”
Hennigan knows the answer, and a draft-day deal for Dwight is possible. He just can’t go there yet about Howard.
The Magic’s direction depends on Howard’s direction, and what we do know is this: Dwight hasn’t told the club he’s dying to sign an extension.
For fans, there could be some tells in the Magic’s poker game regarding Howard. If J.J. Redick is dealt on draft-day and Jameer Nelson opts out Friday, Hennigan won’t have to keep pretending publicly that there’s a chance Howard is coming back.
Hennigan’s job will turn into a rebuilding project.
There’s that “R” word that no fan of any team wants to hear at Draft time.
Any “rebuilding project” comes with a fair amount of pain for all involved. For a Magic franchise that played in the The Finals in 2009, it has to be a particularly painful way of heading into the summer.
Even worse for Magic fans, this might only be the beginning of an excruciatingly painful chapter in franchise history, depending on just how much change is ahead.
HANG TIME PLAYOFF HEADQUARTERS – We can see it now: Peaches and Herb’s “Reunited” blaring from the sound system and a suited and booted Shaquille O’Neal walking to the podium as he’s introduced as the Orlando Magic’s new general manager.
Don’t laugh. It might not be as far-fetched as it sounds.
Dan asked Barkley if Shaquille O’Neal has told him he’s is interested in the Orlando GM job. “Yes,” Barkley said. “I do know he’s interested in the job and he’s going to interview for it.”
Barkley said O’Neal and Dwight Howard have had issues in the past, but that doesn’t mean Shaq can’t go to Orlando.
Barkley thinks Howard needs to make a decision and stay or go in Orlando. He’s sick of talking about it.
“They’re trying to do anything they can to keep Dwight there and get a buzz,” Barkley said. “They have to do something whether Dwight stays there or not. Bringing in Shaquille is an attention getter.”
This gives folks a license to let their imaginations run wild with images of O’Neal back in the city where his Hall of Fame playing career began, the same city he calls home. If Shaq is on the short list of people the Magic want to talk to about replacing Otis Smith, it is noteworthy. Especially considering the nature of his departure from the Magic in 1996 for the Los Angeles Lakers.
O’Neal hasn’t even finished his first year of retirement and already his name is popping up in a GM search. That’s impressive, no matter how it all transpired.
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – With the eyes of the basketball-loving public focused squarely on the playoffs and who will emerge from the Eastern Conference semifinals, we decided to take a mini-detour this week on the Hang Time Podcast.
With all the news coming out of Orlando, we simply could not let an opportunity to dig a little deeper into the goings on down there slip away.
We also had to talk about the potential replacements for both Van Gundy, the coach, and Smith, the general manager. Names like Brian Shaw, Jerry Sloan and Phil Jackson, yes the Zen Master himself, have popped up on the short list of replacements for Van Gundy. Meanwhile, names like Donnie Walsh, Jeff Bower and TNT’s very own Shaquille O’Neal have popped up on the surprising short list of candidates to replace Smith.
(We first heard these rumblings about O’Neal being a candidate Monday night … talk about things getting interesting if the Big Fella were to return to the Magic after all these years.)
You get conversation about all that and more, we talk plenty of playoffs, flagrant fouls, suspensions and everything else with our main man Evan Dunlap of the OPP.
Check it out on Episode 80 of the Hang Time Podcast:
HANG TIME PLAYOFF HEADQUARTERS – At least Stan Van Gundy and Otis Smith will get to walk out of the door together in Orlando.
In what has to rank as the least surprising move of this NBA season, both the Orlando Magic coach and general manager, respectively, parted ways with the organization this afternoon. Van Gundy was relieved of his duties after five seasons with the organization and Smith came to a mutual agreement with the organization to end his tenure, the Magic announced via their website:
“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 [Magic CEO Alex] 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.”
Martins, the man credited with keeping Dwight Howard in the fold at the trade deadline, when Howard could have opted out of the final year of his current contract and become a free agent this summer, is now tasked with rebuilding the front office and coaching staff in an image that pleases Howard.
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.