NBA AM: League Reactions Mixed On Van Gundy
Orlando Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy broke the unwritten code of keeping dirty laundry in house, publicly airing out center Dwight Howard during a press conference on Thursday by stating he had firsthand knowledge the star wanted him to be fired.
Howard, unknowing Van Gundy gave reporters the drop, denied the accusation before the media clued him in on their source of the topic – which was Van Gundy himself.
It was a bizarre and surreal scene down in Orlando on Thursday and an event the team would be hard pressed to overcome with the end of the regular season and start of the playoffs looming.
Their play on the court showed the effects, losing at home to the New York Knicks in a lackluster uninspiring effort.
The Magic have now lost five straight and seven out of their last ten contests.
Reactions to Van Gundy’s decision to put all of the cards on the table have been mixed, ranging from all out support to being labeled as tacky.
Former NBA great and current TNT analyst Shaquille O’Neal was amongst those labeling Van Gundy’s media maneuvering as “bush league.”
“First of all, private conversations should never be brought public,” O’Neal said during TNT’s halftime show on Thursday night. “I think it was a bush league move by Stan Van Gundy, really, personally. First of all, he’s lost his team forever now. That right there can never be repaired. You threw your main guy under the bus. Even if you guys did have a terrible relationship now it’s even worse. It cannot be repaired. Even if they did have that conversation, I think it was the right conversation to have. Let me tell you why, players respect guys with proven resumes. You know Stan’s been there a while, he’s a good coach. But as you know in this league, good is not good enough. It’s all about winning championships and I think sometimes they don’t respect his decision making.”
O’Neal and Van Gundy have quite the history. Van Gundy briefly coached O’Neal in Miami.
It is common knowledge in NBA circles that their feud was one of the primary reasons leading to Van Gundy’s departure from the Miami HEAT. O’Neal has publicly denied he requested Van Gundy fired, but the relationship wasn’t a good one.
Among coaches, Los Angeles Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro is one of the first who came to Van Gundy’s defense lending his support after getting wind of the story.
“Obviously, it’s a players’ league, but you also have to have some type of culture and some type of system built in,” Del Negro told Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times. “It has to be that this is how we are going to go about our daily business. And the coach, everyone in the organization, has to have support from the top coming down to make everything run smoothly. But it always doesn’t work like that.
“When things are going well, everyone is patting you on the back. When things are going bad, that’s when you really see how much support you really have. The good organizations, they stay together through the good times, through the bad times, and more importantly, through the bad times so that they weather those storms together. That why there is less tension, less friction and the players see that and I think they feed off that.”
There is history with Del Negro and Van Gundy as well.
When Del Negro was fired by the Bulls in 2010, Van Gundy was one of the first people on record blasting the Bulls organization for not giving his friend the necessary support needed to succeed as a coach.
Former NBA great and current TNT analyst Charles Barkley went the opposite route, placing the blame on the “source” in Orlando’s front office that filled Van Gundy in on Howard’s alleged request.
“I want to go right for the jugular on this one,” Barkely said. “We don’t know what’s true it’s all conjecture. I don’t think Stan Van Gundy should have broke that out right now and I don’t think Dwight Howard should have asked to have his coach fired. But I have a serious problem with somebody in management. If they had a private conversation with Dwight Howard, it should have stayed private. They should not have shared it with coach Van Gundy. I like coach Van Gundy, I don’t think that was the appropriate time to drop that bombshell, especially on game day. But like I say, Dwight Howard should not try to get his coach fired. But whoever the scumbag is, if it’s true, who had a private conversation with Dwight Howard to leak that to coach Van Gundy, that’s just a punk [expletive] move in my opinion.”
Without a doubt, Van Gundy is a solid NBA coach who will not have problem finding another gig around the league.
Howard, on the other hand, is the best center in the league today and a perennial All-Star. This issue won’t slow him down one bit in the long run.
Unfortunately, both guys will likely be on opposing sides at the end of the season – if not sooner.
Bucks’ Ilyasova Set To Cash In This Summer: The Milwaukee Bucks are a franchise who rarely receives national attention, but one of their players is expected to get major love at the start of free agency this summer.
Power forward Ersan Ilyasova is having a career year and making a run for the league’s Most Improved Player award averaging 12.8 points and 8.7 rebounds per night this season.
For all of the attention Ilyasova is expected to receive, the 24 year old would rather focus the rest of the season on basketball and not a potential change of address.
“I’m not really concerned about it (a new contract) and I don’t really want to think about it,” Ilyasova told Charles Gardner of The Journal Sentinel. “I don’t want it to be something that affects my game. All I care about now is to win games and be in the playoffs. When the season is over, we’ll see what the options are and discuss with my manager.”
The power forward free agent class this season is a solid one.
Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Carl Landry, Kris Humphries, Ryan Anderson and Antawn Jamison are all free agents amongst others.
The Bucks currently have $49 million in salary commitments for the 2013 season.
The salary cap for next season will be no lower than $58 million as negotiated in the new collective bargaining agreement, but could be set higher.
The team is in the midst of a late season playoff push, currently trailing the New York Knicks by 1.5 games.
For now, Ilyasova only wants to focus only on the Bucks’ playoff chances and he believes the addition of high scoring Monta Ellis from Golden State may be the spark to get them there.
“I don’t really care about a whole lot except winning,” Ilyasova said. “Some nights you may not be performing well, but if the team is winning, it’s always good. It’s like our first year when we made the playoffs (2010) and they made a great move (acquiring John Salmons) at the trade deadline. It was a good decision to bring Monta to our team.”
Kirilenko Gets Russian League MVP: According to multiple reports out of Russia, former NBA All-Star forward Andrei Kirilenko has been named MVP for the Eastern Europe’s VTB Basketball League.
Kirilenko, who plays for CSKA, averaged 10.8 points and 5.8 rebounds for the team during its march to the VTB League Final Four.
The forward signed a three-year deal with CSKA, but the contract includes an opt out clause which would allow him to return to the NBA since the lockout is now over.
If Kirilenko decides to return to the United States, the New Jersey Nets have long been rumored as potential suitors.
With pressure on the organization mounting to surround All-Star guard Deron Williams with talent to secure him long term, you should expect Kirilenko to get a strong look.
Kirilenko, a three-time All-Defensive team selection, was a teammate of Williams in Utah.
NBA Chats: There are two NBA chats today starting with Yannis Koutroupis who will drop his weekly chat at 11am EST. Yannis serves as a Senior NBA Writer and the College Basketball Editor for HOOPSWORLD so get your questions in early as Yannis’ chats fill up fast. HOOPSWORLD’s Alex Kennedy will host his NBA chat at 1:00pm EST. You can always find the next upcoming chat here: Upcoming NBA Chats or if you are looking for a chat that already completed try here: Previous NBA Chats