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Magic players divided on Van Gundy, so he made calculated play

Apr 5, 2012, 4:57 PM EDT

Magic head coach Van Gundy reacts during Game 3 of their NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference basketball game against Hawks in Atlanta Reuters

Dwight Howard may want what he sees as a little ball of negativity — namely Stan Van Gundy — out of the way, but that’s not what all the other Magic players want. They are a house divided, something that will mean a quick exit from the playoffs.

So, rather than have secret agendas, Van Gundy decided to go public in about the biggest way possible in hopes of getting the team to move past this.

The fact the Magic are a house divided is clear, the theory on why Van Gundy went public comes from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo.

The Magic locker room has been divided for most of the season – most siding with Van Gundy, some with Howard, sources say – and it had reached a critical mass with Howard sitting out losses this week to Denver and Detroit.

“The organization has allowed Dwight to set up the coach,” a league source close to management and the coach said. “They have to have a reason to blame someone. If they win, and he gets fired, everyone will know it’s on the player. Losing gives everyone the out when the season’s over, especially Howard.”

A number of Magic players have had their best years under Van Gundy. Hedo Turkoglu was a mess everywhere else but Van Gundy used him as a playmaker and he led the Magic to the finals, Ryan Anderson is having a career season as a stretch four, J.J. Redick has flourished in his system.

So it’s no shock a number of players told Brian K. Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel they backed Howard. Here are Schmitz’s tweets:

Ryan Anderson on Stan Van Gundy: “I love Stan. I think he’s a great coach for us.”

Hedo Turkoglu on Stan Van Gundy: “I want Stan to be my coach forever.”

One player’s comments to me: “Our problem isn’t Stan (Van Gundy). We got one guy who wants to run the show.”

Magic player to me: “I know Dwight will be gone after next season.”

Frankly, Dwight Howard owes a lot of his success to Van Gundy. Howard is a three-time Defensive Player of the Year because Van Gundy set up a defense that funnels penetration to Howard and has him shut it down (something Howard does well). Howard gets room to operate on offense because Van Gundy put in a system with a lot of shooters around him.

At this point, the only question is will Van Gundy be gone during the season or after the playoffs. Either way, Howard had tried to keep the blood off his hands, but now that is impossible. He will get castigated for this, no matter what happens.

Either way, Van Gundy made the smart play. Wojnarowski explains it well.

Van Gundy had a plan here. He understood that these Magic, losers of four straight, couldn’t go on this way. He wanted it out there: Yes, I’m gone. So stop tanking. Stop trying to get me fired. When the season is over, you’ll get your wish. For now, let’s play. Let’s try to win.

“It was that,” a source close to him said, “or they just fire him, and it’s over.”

  1. drunkenjunk - Apr 5, 2012 at 5:15 PM

    awesome play by SVG, I loved Howards reaction.

  2. darealrandolph - Apr 5, 2012 at 5:25 PM

    they need to trade d12 I’m a fan of him but they need to trade him cuz their so much turmoil on that Orlando Franchise and this is coming from a true knicks fan

  3. cured76 - Apr 5, 2012 at 5:26 PM

    Luckily for SVG he got out before the media asked Howard about Stan’s comments. I may have seen an impish little grin when Stan got out from underneath Dwight’s arm and scuttled out.

    The guy can coach. It isn’t his fault the team has overpayed for players that weren’t worth the cap Hell they got themselves into.

  4. phx1311 - Apr 5, 2012 at 5:29 PM

    I used to be a huge d12 fan but after the nonsense this season im over him….oh and go suns!!!

  5. lakerluver - Apr 5, 2012 at 5:40 PM

    Howard’s gonna do more damage to the Magic than Shaq ever did!!

  6. losangelasbasketball - Apr 5, 2012 at 5:45 PM

    coaching in the NBA has to be the worst job in america…

    • fouldwimmerlaik - Apr 5, 2012 at 7:04 PM

      Not if you were Red Auerbach, Phil Jackson, and Greg Poppovich.

      • fouldwimmerlaik - Apr 5, 2012 at 7:05 PM

        *Gregg Popovich

  7. marlondagr8 - Apr 5, 2012 at 5:58 PM

    Howard is a BIG sissy, he will never be better then Shaq.

  8. donfelder440 - Apr 5, 2012 at 6:02 PM

    Smart play by Van Gundy.

    Howard is a snake in the worst way. Instead of just manning up, he puts out this facade like he’s a super nice guy and everybody’s best buddy. Funny, the guys who have the reputation for being THAT friendly and seem to want to befriend everybody are usually the biggest snakes.

  9. charlutes - Apr 5, 2012 at 6:27 PM

    This is a serious question, I’m not trying to slap the guy…Why does everyone assume the magic won’t find a better coach? I’ve never thought Van Gundy was a very good coach. His strategy seems overly simple to me, anyone not named Howard jack up 3’s, or feed the beast in the post. That doesn’t strike me as a quality coaches gameplan, but that’s just me watching from home so I could be way off. I just think he’s never won anything, he’s gone deep a few times, he’s had good teams…why does everyone always praise him as a great coach? I don’t see it, although for the record I’m a huge JEff Van Gundy fan, as a coach or commentator I just think he’s great.

  10. jagwar73 - Apr 5, 2012 at 6:53 PM

    Trade Dwight Howard for the rights to the overall number one pick (whoever ends up with it)! Seems like a fair deal to me.

    • darealrandolph - Apr 5, 2012 at 10:26 PM

      the nets most likely get that pick which means d12 get his wish he and d-will will play in Brooklyn and magic get brook Lopez and 1st overall # one pick that sound like a fair deal

  11. cured76 - Apr 5, 2012 at 7:46 PM

    I’m actually curious how Dwight’s line will finish tonight. He’s sensitive and not exactly a true professional so this could affect his performance big time. Also curious if his team-mates will freeze him out in support of their coach.

    As of right now, in the 2nd quarter, he’s played 10 minutes and collected 2 rebounds and 1 personal foul. Not a strong start. Attribute that to his physical or emotional injury?

  12. sasquash20 - Apr 5, 2012 at 8:09 PM

    I wanted my Sixers to go after this guy but now I’m glad we don’t have him. He is selfish and self centered. I hope he never wins a title.

    • smoothaswilkes - Apr 5, 2012 at 10:43 PM

      completely agree as a lakers fan…

      you could kind of tell with he attitude during the trade season. flip flop, didn’t want to do what Shaq did (good luck superman)…

      the guy seems like a total flake. sure he super talented at an elite level but dude is a tool. don’t want him on the team i root for.

  13. emaimo80 - Apr 5, 2012 at 9:13 PM

    Dwight is such a baby, with absolutely no class. I hope he never wins a ring!

  14. gmsalpha - Apr 5, 2012 at 10:02 PM

    Seriously, Dwight?

    You were one of the good guys and one of the faces of the NBA. Now through the trade debacle and the push to get your coach fired (and subsequent denials), you just look like a punk.

    Such a shame. You’ll still be a hot commodity because you’re the best defensive Center in the league, but you’re damaged goods and not nearly the guy you’ve always pretended to be.

    Very sad.

  15. larrybrown43 - Apr 5, 2012 at 10:18 PM

    Ha ha. Howard looked like Judas and a fool. In the grand scheme of things Howard will go down in history as a good regular season player and an average playoff player. In other words, his legend – like Iverson – will diminish over time. Athletes tend to think they’ll always get to be divas but the world passes them by pretty quickly.

    When the rim gets smaller in the playoffs this guy isn’t there to make the big basket or free throw.

    He totally quit on his team for the last two years. That’s not a super star to me but more like a Randy Moss type. Brady and Belichick made Moss a winner playing the 6th vocal or so in the bad. Some fool in NYC thought Carmello was a lead singer. I’m sure people will believe the same of Dtwitt Howard.

    As someone sad earlier, an NBA coach has one of the toughest jobs. Putting up with the attitudes and the ungodly long, meaningless regular season are taxing.

  16. darealrandolph - Apr 5, 2012 at 10:27 PM

    Trade Dwight Howard for the rights to the overall number one pick (whoever ends up with it)! Seems like a fair deal to me & the nets most likely get that pick which means d12 get his wish he and d-will will play in Brooklyn and magic get brook Lopez and 1st overall # one pick that sound like a fair deal.

  17. glink123 - Apr 6, 2012 at 1:02 AM

    dude is damaged goods. gotta be the most emotionally fragile player I’ve ever seen.

  18. fm31970 - Apr 6, 2012 at 1:40 AM

    SVG? = Respected

    Dwight Howard? = “Child, please”.

    I really like that Deron WIlliams was honest and upfront, saying he was going to opt out this summer. See what happens when you don’t play games, Dwight? People respect you and want to build a TRUE winning team around you.

    Mark Cuban is licking his chops right about know.

  19. allball23 - Apr 6, 2012 at 9:16 AM

    That is so funny, I respect SVG for getting everything out in the open. Exsposing D12 as a coach killer lol. The team is just not good enough to win. They have a good coach. Any team that can single cover D12 then the magic crumble. ie the knicks with chandler.

  20. raidmagic - Apr 6, 2012 at 10:11 AM

    I’d rather see Howard go than Van Gundy

  21. darealrandolph - Apr 7, 2012 at 4:14 PM

    Deron Williams would love to play for his home town team but it not going to happen cuz their no young star that going to join him Dallas therefore i see Deron Williams staying in Brooklyn and also you will see Dwight Howard leave Orlando through a trade in the off season cuz Orlando newspaper,fans will blame him for SVG and Otis smith firing which he wants no involvement and Brooklyn Nets will have young prospects to give Orlando (Brook Lopez, if the land him in the draft Anthony Davis,Marshon Brooks plus take Hedo Turkgolu of there books) in that case you will see Deron Williams and Dwight Howard opening up the new arena in Brooklyn not Dallas or even LA.

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