Dwight Howard, Stan Van Gundy Deflect Drama
Once again, the Orlando Magic’s season has been overshadowed by drama.
Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy and superstar Dwight Howard aren’t seeing eye-to-eye and tensions reached a boiling point on Thursday afternoon. Rumors had been circulating all season that Howard asked the front office to fire Van Gundy. The head coach confirmed the rumor on Thursday afternoon, saying that he was told by someone in Orlando’s management.
After losing to the New York Knicks on Thursday evening, Van Gundy tried to deflect attention from his situation and focused on how the Magic can turn things around going forward.
“That’s not what’s important right now,” Van Gundy said, when asked about his future with the team. “It’s not. My job security is not what’s important right now. What Dwight wants is not important. What’s important is that we focus on playing better as a team. That’s what is important.”
Van Gundy told reporters that he expects to finish the season in Orlando and said that he would be on the team flight to Philadelphia tomorrow. Van Gundy and Howard met with Magic general manager Otis Smith on Thursday afternoon and discussed the drama.
“He and I met with Otis,” Van Gundy said. “Look, we’ve been together all this year. We’ve been together for five years. We know each other very well. Dwight will go out there and play and I’ll go out there and coach. That’s the understanding. We know that.”
Howard wouldn’t discuss the situation after the game. He only discussed the loss to the Knicks.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” Howard said of the drama. “That has nothing to do with the game.”
When reporters tried to follow up, Howard repeatedly said “next question.”
Orlando has lost five straight games for the first time since Van Gundy became the team’s head coach in 2007. Much of Van Gundy’s postgame press conference was spent discussing how the team can turn things around before the playoffs.
“We’re in a bad time right now,” Van Gundy said. “We’re not the deepest team in the world anyway and we have guys that are hurt. We’re not playing well at all. We have no rhythm, with different guys in and out. It’s a very bad time. We have three weeks to go, 11 games, and we have to have some faith that we can get back to playing how we were three weeks ago. Everything has changed for the bad in the last two weeks. We have to get back to when things were good, two or three weeks ago. That’s the focus right now.”
Van Gundy was asked to reveal his “source” within management that warned him about Howard’s efforts to get him fired. The head coach laughed at the question.
“My source? I don’t have a source. I don’t have to go to somebody to find things out. People tell me things. I work here. Why would I tell that? My management [told me],” Van Gundy said.
While Howard wants Van Gundy out in Orlando, not all players feel the same way. J.J. Redick is one player who is behind Van Gundy and he made that clear during his postgame press conference.
“I want to play for Stan, there’s no question,” Redick said. “I’m not a player that wants to make any statements regarding decisions. My job is go out there, play hard and do my job on the court. And I hope that’s with Stan coaching me.”
Van Gundy and Howard may not be on the same page, but it doesn’t seem like any changes are coming. The two men will have to make this work for the remainder of the season and then see what happens this offseason.