Stan Van Gundy has been relieved of duties by the Orlando Magic, signaling a shift in a new direction for a team working to appease Dwight Howard. President of Basketball Operations and GM Otis Smith also resigned Monday, according to Chief Executive Officer Alex Martins.
“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.”
Orlando was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs without the help of Howard, who was out with a herniated disk in his back.
The Magic went through a tumultuous 2011-12 season despite finishing with a 37-29 record and the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference. Rumors swirled earlier in the year that Howard had wanted both Van Gundy and Smith fired, creating a chaotic media circus that played out for the majority of the year. With Howard potentially heading into free agency, the team was stuck in limbo and these moves are likely tied to Howard’s preferences. Many other members of the team were happy with Van Gundy, yet the opinion of arguably the best center in the league seems to outweigh them.
Van Gundy finishes with a 259-135 record in five seasons with Orlando, reaching the postseason all five years.
Smith worked to put pieces around Howard throughout the last few seasons, but ended up handicapping the organization with bad contracts like Rashard Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu and Vince Carter.
“They both brought die-hard dedication and an unmatched work ethic on a daily basis,” Martins said. “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.”
More information on potential replacements and the future of the Magic will be revealed in the coming days. It will be interesting to see the direction the team goes in with Howard seeming to have one foot already out the door.