The Orlando Magic fired one of the five best coaches in the NBA this past season because Dwight Howard didn’t like him. We can assume he didn’t like all that nagging Stan did in hopes that Dwight improve as a player, but we don’t know that for sure. The day Stan pulled back the curtain in front of the NBA universe exposing Howard’s demands to have him canned surely could’ve been the block that knocked their jenga castle over for good though, however.
All of which led to the Orlando Magic organization to part ways with Head Coach Stan Van Gundy along with GM Otis Smith on Monday. This move being one they hope will entice DH12 to sign long-term and stay in Orlando. With Stan gone, he could spend the next three years defaming SVG’s character by doing that terrible impersonation he does with reporters sometimes, and win a considerable amount of games but never the NBA title. After three or four years of that, nobody in Orlando may even remember this past season ever happened. Maybe.
That being if he wants to now stay, which according to Marc Stein, isn’t necessarily a guarantee at this point:
Those changes alone don’t guarantee that Howard will stay, according to sources familiar with his thinking, but the prospect of Orlando hiring a proven team builder like Donnie Walsh to mentor in-house favorite Adonal Foyle — then going out and getting a coach who could try to build a better bond with Howard than Van Gundy had — at least gives Orlando fresh hope.
Ditto for the idea that Howard, as some rival executives believe, might be increasingly interested in locking in some long-term security after season-ending back surgery that represents the first major injury of his career.
The biggest factor when it comes to convincing Howard to sign an extension, of course, will be the moves that the new GM can swing with a roster short on tradeable commodities.
The coaching hire, though, is plenty significant in the wake of Howard’s well-chronicled resistance to Van Gundy’s guidance, so expect to hear all kinds of names as possibilities to fill the Van Gundy void, ranging from the experienced (such as Nate McMillan and Mike D’Antoni) to the unproven but up-and-coming (like Mike Malone and Brian Shaw).
The last head coaches who also played in the games were Bill Russell and Lenny Wilkens back in the 1970’s. Mike Dunleavy came off the bench as an assistant with the Bucks in the 1980’s, but I’m sure Dwight wouldn’t want to be just the assistant coach. Unfortunately, the CBA no longer allows player to also coach the team they are on at all. I’m not sure it says anything about that player also being GM, but Dwight already kind of is anyways in Orlando regardless of that bylaw. So it’ll be interesting to see who he suggests the Magic hire to replace the guys who just got fired. Then it will be even more interesting to see whether or not he even wants to play for that guy.