NBA PM: Magic Fire Van Gundy, Smith Out Too
If Stan Van Gundy’s source was right, and Dwight Howard wanted him gone, then the Orlando Magic center got his way on Monday afternoon.
Van Gundy, who had one year left on his deal, has been fired by the Magic while general manager Otis Smith and the franchise have decided mutually to part ways.
“These are the days you dread in this business,” Magic CEO Alex Martins said in the statement. “But we feel it’s time for new leadership and new voices.”
The moves aren’t a surprise by any stretch of the imagination. Van Gundy told the media in April that he had been told by “people in our management” that Howard had been trying to get him fired, and even though he accumulated a winning percentage of .657 since stepping in before the 2007-2008 season, even taking the team to the NBA Finals in 2008-2009, the Magic’s dreadful 2011-2012 campaign sealed his fate.
Even besides Howard’s back injury, which ultimately cut his season short and prevented the Magic from getting out of the first round of the playoffs, Orlando’s season was an epic failure. The team finished 37-29 and was plagued by trade rumors and the ever-present threat that Howard would opt out of his contract at season’s end to sign with the Brooklyn Nets.
The players that were added—supposedly to appease Howard—didn’t pan out, and have placed the franchise in a precarious salary cap situation.
Hedo Turkoglu will make $11.815 million next year, Glen Davis and Jason Richardson are signed through 2014-2015, and the NBA’s Most-Improved Player Ryan Anderson is set to become a free agent.
The bottom line is that the Orlando Magic have an uncertain future and now they’ll be looking for a new coach and general manager to fix this mess.
Don’t expect Mike D’Antoni to fill the coaching vacancy (see below), but Phil Jackson’s renewed health makes him a candidate. The Magic ranked 14th in offensive efficiency, so whoever the new coach is will have to find a way to turn things around at that end of the floor.
The next challenge will be appeasing Howard, who is about to enter the final year of his contract. Unless the team wants another season of trade demands, the new coach and GM will have to get the three-time Defensive Player of the Year to buy into their system.
Mike D’Antoni Breaks His Silence
Sooner or later, former Mike D’Antoni was going to break his silence about his March resignation from the New York Knicks. The circumstances surrounding his exit were too bizarre, too cryptic to go unexplained.
Was his offense at odds with Carmelo Anthony’s game? Was he butting heads with owner James Dolan? Were Isiah Thomas and Create Artists Agency pulling the strings inside Madison Square Garden?
Well, D’Antoni met with longtime Sports Illustrated writer Jack McCallum, who informed readers that besides a few fundraising gigs at Marshall University—D’Antoni’s alma mater—he’s been keeping a low profile.
And because McCallum is a true professional, he put out the disclaimer that he and D’Antoni are both friends. McCallum wrote Seven Seconds or Less and feels connected to the West Virginia native, but that doesn’t mean he can’t excavate a few important details from D’Antoni.
For instance, D’Antoni is definitely interested in coaching, but he insists he hasn’t spoken to anyone about the possibility of replacing Stan Van Gundy in Orlando. Furthermore, D’Antoni is going to stay in the New York suburbs so his son can finish high school before the family moves.
“I want to get back,” D’Antoni told McCallum. “But nothing is going on now, and the smart money says that I will hang out here [at his suburban home]. Michael will be a senior and to let him finish and graduate would be one good reason to stay here for a year.”
But the bigger details McCallum explored had nothing to do with the future. D’Antoni claims he “absolutely resigned,” and was not fired by Knicks management, as many had speculated. It was hard for him to watch his former players (“I got in my pajamas and didn’t get out of them for a month”) and D’Antoni admitted the decision is still a painful one.
D’Antoni didn’t get into specifics about what brought on the decision, but he did say that his coaching philosophy probably wasn’t the best for Anthony’s talents. Of course, he doesn’t fail to mention that when he served as the coach of the Phoenix Suns he routinely used Amar’e Stoudemire and Boris Diaw in the post, which is perceived to be Anthony’s greatest strength.
“There’s never one answer for why things don’t work out,” D’Antoni said.
Please check out the full article over at SI.com.
Is Lavoy Allen Too Polite for Philadelphia?
Prior to the Philadelphia 76ers’ equalizing Game 4 win over the Boston Celtics on Friday, coach Doug Collins told the media he refused to bench veteran Elton Brand in favor of Lavoy Allen.
Collins said that someone like Brand, who had battled back from injuries and had worked so hard in his career deserved to start, but did add the caveat that he’d be willing to sub early.
The questions about Brand’s status as a starter came on the back of several good outings by Celtics big man Kevin Garnett, who was averaging 20.3 ppg in the postseason heading into Friday. Clearly the 6-8 Brand was struggling to contain the 6-11 Garnett, and Philadelphia fans and media members were growing restless.
Collins kept his word, and Brand did get the start. However, he played only 16 minutes because Allen came off the bench to log 33 minutes, grab 10 rebounds and absolutely smother Garnett.
“Lavoy, once again, defensively just did a tremendous job,” Collins said of mild-mannered Morrisville, Pa. native.
“He’s an amazing guy. There’s never a change with him. He’d be the greatest poker player in the world, because you never know whether it’s going good or bad for him.”
Friday was going good for the 6-9 Allen. Garnett made just 3 of 12 shots and turned the ball over seven times while finishing with nine points.
For the 50th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, locking down Garnett in a crucial Game 4 with his team trailing 2-1 should have been a big deal. In fact, Allen has been getting major minutes in crucial situations throughout the playoffs. But when he spoke with HOOPSWORLD before the game, Allen—who went to nearby Temple—wasn’t fazed in the least.
“I expected the older guys to be playing the majority of the minutes but I’m grateful for the minutes I’m in there,” he told HOOPSWORLD. “Whenever he calls my name I don’t ask any questions, I just go out there.”
Allen isn’t even amazed that he’s going up against the Boston Celtics only months after facing Atlantic 10 competition.
“It’s exactly what I expected,” he said. “They’re a great team, they play well together and what else am I going to say? Kevin Garnett is a great player.”
Allen rotated with Nic Vucevic, Elton Brand, Spencer Hawes and Tony Battie this season—a group he calls “team oriented” because they “don’t get a lot of shots,” but “move the ball well—and he finished the regular season averaging just 4.1 points and 4.2 rebounds per game.
But Allen’s contributions don’t always show up in a box score. He’s adept at denying shots and he has the perfect attitude for a Doug Collins team—just not the perfect attitude for Philadelphia.
“Just try and be physical,” he said when asked of his role on the team. “I try to rebound and hit the open jump shot.”
Maybe Collins can do a better job of describing Allen.
“My goal in life is to have one Lavoy Allen day,” Collins said of his even-keeled attitude. “Just one. Just not give a (expletive deleted) about anything.”
That attitude can serve Allen well, but Collins is also encouraging the lethargic Allen to show more attitude and energy on the floor.
“Lavoy is a first round talent, a lottery talent,” Collins said of the second-round pick. “We always said, if the motor is going, he’s that kind of talent. His two best games in college were against Duke and in the tournament against San Diego State so you know he’s not afraid of the big stage.”
Nobody can argue that.
The Celtics and 76ers will square off again tonight in Boston in a pivotal Game 5 and you can bet that Allen is ready once again—even if he doesn’t necessarily show it.
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