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Report: Hawks targeting Stan Van Gundy as possible head coach, and yes, there’s a Dwight Howard connection

May 10, 2013, 8:31 PM EST

Orlando Magic v Phoenix Suns Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks finished another underwhelming season under head coach Larry Drew, and while Drew is still under contract with the team through the end of June, it’s more than likely that the team will go in another direction next season.

In addition to the coaching spot, the Hawks are going to need to rebuild a little bit from a personnel standpoint, considering that Josh Smith is an unrestricted free agent, and is likely to sign elsewhere in the offseason.

Combine both of those situations, and you get to where Atlanta is now: in pursuit of a big name, experienced head coach, who may in turn help to lure a big name, superstar free agent.

From Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:

The Atlanta Hawks are aggressively pursuing Stan Van Gundy for the franchise’s head-coaching job, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

General manager Danny Ferry has made Van Gundy his top target to replace Larry Drew, sources said.

There has been contact between Ferry and Van Gundy, but the two sides have yet to meet in person.

The Hawks plan to make a hard push for free-agent center Dwight Howard on July 1, and there’s some belief that Van Gundy could turn out to be a benefit in recruiting Howard back to his hometown.

Howard has expressed some sentiment that he better appreciates Van Gundy as a head coach, despite their clashes together in Orlando that ultimately led to the coach’s firing after the 2011-12 season.

Van Gundy has an excellent reputation in coaching circles, and the job he did in Orlando — including how he was brutally honest in handling the Dwight Howard nonsense in his final season there — is well-respected throughout the league. While he hasn’t decided whether or not he wishes to return to coaching next season, there will be no shortage of opportunities for him if he’s ready to come back.

As for Howard, go ahead and consider this the first of what will assuredly be many rumors about what his ultimate destiny might be at the end of free agency. Howard said that his first season in Los Angeles with the Lakers was like a nightmare immediately following its conclusion, though he was much healthier in the second half of the year, and despite a multitude of injuries, he helped L.A. to a 28-12 finish to the regular season that landed the team in the playoffs.

The Lakers remain the favorite to sign Howard, partially because they can offer him one more year and $30 million more in guaranteed money than any other team can under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement. That, along with being handed the keys to the storied L.A. franchise once Kobe Bryant retires may make the opportunity there too great for Howard to pass up.

  1. 00maltliquor - May 10, 2013 at 8:58 PM

    Underwhelming season? UNDERWHELMING SEASON?? I didn’t even have that garbage team in the playoffs before the season started when I did my own personal rankings. I think they went above and beyond expectations with that roster. Larry Drew deserves more respect then that!

    • mytthor - May 11, 2013 at 12:40 PM

      Well if they’re not in the playoffs in YOUR rankings, it must have been a great job! Can you get a Phil Jackson style coaching advisor job with the Hawks? I’m sure they want to know your opinion?

      • 00maltliquor - May 11, 2013 at 12:54 PM

        psssh…thissss guy^

        Yeah, why not…they’d be wise to do so!

      • Kevin S. - May 11, 2013 at 5:47 PM

        Nobody had the Hawks in the playoffs this year. It wasn’t just 00’s personal rankings.

  2. lakerluver - May 10, 2013 at 9:08 PM

    Dwight will end up with one of three teams: the LAKERS, Rockets or Mavs, in that particular order. The only thing the Hawks could possibly have in their favor is he’s from there. But he’s made it clear he doesn’t want to play there. My guess is he stays with the LAKERS and they “reload” in 2014.

  3. melkipershero - May 10, 2013 at 9:24 PM

    Hawks overachieved this year. SVG is a damn good coach though and I believe Dwight now sees that. He really used Dwight and the rest of the team (3 point shooters) the right way in Orlando. I really don’t see CP3 going anywhere but ATL with Dwight would be the only spot I could see CP3 going to. I think Dwight is walking from the Lakers 100%.

  4. kb2408 - May 10, 2013 at 10:35 PM

    Atlanta has about as much of a chance of landing Dwight as they do of landing CP3… NONE! If Dwight leaves L.A. it will be to go to Houston. However, when it’s all said and done, he will realize that playing for the most illustrious and greatest franchise in all of sports will be too much to turn down.

    • melkipershero - May 10, 2013 at 10:57 PM

      I think Dwight is just wired different than most greats that have went through L.A. Agreed 100%.. He’s going to Houston. That $30 million difference isn’t really that much when you factor in taxes in California and cost of living and the fact it’s a 4 year deal and not 5. He can make up that difference easy.

      Only way either end up in ATL is if they go together.

      • badintent - May 11, 2013 at 12:21 AM

        you’re 100 % right. $5 million buys you a doghouse in Malibu. $ 3 million in Atlanta buys you Hoyfield’s digs(back property taxes) 110 rooms , 2 pools and indoor everything.

  5. erckle31 - May 11, 2013 at 12:08 AM

    I doubt Dwight will want to go to a fringe playoff team that struggles to even fill its own seats.

    • mytthor - May 11, 2013 at 12:41 PM

      For my sake as a Laker fan I hope he doesn’t mind staying with a fringe playoff team that sells out every night ;)

      • mazblast - May 11, 2013 at 5:23 PM

        Well played. Nice sense of humor, too.

      • erckle31 - May 11, 2013 at 11:18 PM

        Hahaha, touche, touche. Fellow Laker fan here as well and I couldn’t agree more.

  6. mannyicey - May 12, 2013 at 8:32 AM

    As a Hawks fan, I can speak for the majority in saying that we really do not want Dwight Howard here. He may be a good player, but we have seen him melt down too much. Plus, he lacks the maturity to be a franchise player and we don’t want to have the face of the franchise to be yet another immature player that can’t handle the responsibility.

    Plus, the only reason why he doesn’t want to be in Atlanta is because we know him here. I saw him play in high school. I know his family through the church he attends (I know the pastor.) The reason why he doesn’t want to come is because he can’t get away with the immature lifestyle here in Atlanta. There are too many people down here that will call him out on his lifestyle. So the last place he wants to be is in Atlanta.

    I think the person that we really want is Chris Paul. The Hawks want Chris Paul badly. If Chris Paul would say “Give me this guy” I think that we would try to get that guy. But it will be Chris Paul’s team.

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