Skip to content

Orlando Magic let go of coach Stan Van Gundy, GM Otis Smith

May 21, 2012, 3:41 PM EDT

Orlando's Stan Van Gundy shouts during an NBA playoff basketball game in Indianapolis Reuters

And the “we will do anything to keep Dwight Howard happy” parade continues.

The Orlando Magic have announced that they are parting ways with coach Stan Van Gundy as well as GM Otis Smith. Follow that link if you want to read the generic “he was great for us” quotes from the owner that just fired him.

In five years with the Magic Van Gundy had a 259-135 (.657) record and took the team to the NBA finals. He is the most successful coach in Magic history.

The move is not really a surprise, we know from last season that center Howard had asked for a change — Van Gundy himself said he was told that by management, while Howard has denied it nobody believed him. In the NBA, the power struggle between the truly elite player and the coach always goes to the player — they are harder to come by and you have to do everything to keep them. Which is what the Magic are trying to do, show Howard they are willing to go a new direction and retool for him.

Is this move enough to keep Howard so he doesn’t leave them after this season? I doubt it. He’ll want to see people come in who he thinks can build a winner in Orlando… like Van Gundy did. But lets not belabor that point.

The question is, what coach can the Magic get that is better? Phil Jackson is not walking through that door.

But maybe his former lead assistant Brian Shaw is. Shaw is currently a big part of Frank Vogel’s staff in Indiana and is reportedly one of the key guys Howard said he wanted the Magic go bring in. Don’t be shocked if bigger names like Nate McMillan also end up in the mix pretty quickly.

As for Van Gundy, he will land on his feet as he is now maybe the hottest free agent coach out there that doesn’t have 11 rings (maybe Mike D’Antoni would quibble). To be fair, like Howard lot of players are not fond of Van Gundy, who is seen as old-school and negative. But he wins and his teams defend. A whole lot of teams could use that.

Whoever the new GM turns out to be will have a difficult task ahead. You have to improve this team which is already over the salary cap and tax threshold, severely limiting your options, and point guard Jameer Nelson is testing the free agent market. The Magic are not flush with great trade pieces — nobody wants Hedo Turkoglu and you can’t get that much for solid players like J.J. Redick. There is no simple quick fix here, in an effort to put the team over the hump after their finals run Smith backed the team into a difficult financial corner.

But Howard got what he wanted. And we have more turmoil in Orlando.

  1. thetooloftools - May 21, 2012 at 6:21 PM

    No coach with long term plans would even think about taking this job. Who wants to sign up for a grease fire?
    She’s leaving after next season or will be traded before the deadline. I hope Brian Shaw doesn’t take this job. It’s a disaster waiting to happen. He’ll be the next Lakers coach after Kobe has this regime run off after they lose this next playoff series anyway.

    • redblue560 - May 22, 2012 at 9:01 AM

      Brian Shaw will not coach the lakers. A matter of pride more than money. If the pacers can make it to the conf finals, his resume just got even better.

  2. iowahbr - May 21, 2012 at 6:31 PM

    Pretty simple solution although no one has suggested same yet. Make Howard the player-coach and then he can’t complain to the owner behind the coach’s back about the coach. The owners are killing themselves slowly with all these megastar cave-ins.

  3. allball23 - May 21, 2012 at 6:41 PM

    Superstar player vs coach. Coach is out the door. Looks like the magic will actually be worse this season without SVG. Well D12 got what he wanted. If D12 doesnt sign s long term contract b4 the season please trade him because he will walk.

  4. tampajoey - May 21, 2012 at 8:00 PM

    Dwight Howard is a POS.

    • boilerup1869 - May 21, 2012 at 9:34 PM


  5. ishudbgm - May 21, 2012 at 8:51 PM

    Otis Smith was never qualified for the job of GM. Im happy he is gone and I am not even a Magic fan. That team could of been a lot better with the right moves, get a real GM!!!!!!!

  6. mickbong - May 21, 2012 at 9:34 PM

    Lebron’s fault

  7. boilerup1869 - May 21, 2012 at 9:44 PM

    Screw this new coach-killer, me-first generation of players. Sick of their garbage self-centered attitudes.

    This means YOU:

    -Dwight Howard
    -Chris Paul
    -LeBron James
    -Deron Williams
    -Carmelo Anthony
    -Other idiots that I’ve forgotten

    I root against all of you.

    • tampajoey - May 21, 2012 at 10:00 PM


      • boilerup1869 - May 21, 2012 at 10:05 PM

        Yes Bosh too!

    • drhgj - May 21, 2012 at 10:40 PM

      Common denominator: These losers don’t have a ring to back up their mouths!

      • boilerup1869 - May 22, 2012 at 3:44 PM

        DaMarcus Cousins!

    • florida727 - May 22, 2012 at 9:47 AM

      boilerup1869 – May 21, 2012 at 9:44 PM
      Screw this new coach-killer, me-first generation of players. Sick of their garbage self-centered attitudes.

      I root against all of you.


      What happens when they play each other? :) Just kidding; a bit of tongue-in-cheek sarcasm. Couldn’t agree with you more. That’s why I’ve said all along that money is ruining the sport. Teams invest so much in the players, and the contracts are guaranteed, so who you going to fire when things go south? Can’t be the player; you’ve got too much wrapped up in him. Inmates running the asylum. Makes a strong case for college sports being more enjoyable to watch. They’re just trying to get to the prima-donna level :)

  8. heyjohnnyfive - May 21, 2012 at 10:38 PM

    The term “Van Gundies” owns haha! SVG will get a job somewhere and turn whatever franchise he lands with around.

  9. dwnbc - May 23, 2012 at 5:24 PM

    Long time coming for this firing

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. L. James (1972)
  2. D. Rose (1771)
  3. K. Bryant (1627)
  4. J. Smith (1545)
  5. T. Thompson (1375)
  1. K. Irving (1343)
  2. T. Wroten (1334)
  3. A. Davis (1277)
  4. F. Saunders (1246)
  5. J. Embiid (1224)