NBA@2: Orlando’s Howard Wants Van Gundy Fired?
What you’re about to read shouldn’t shock you . . .not if you’ve been following the Orlando Magic for any amount of time. Magic All-Star center Dwight Howard and head coach Stan Van Gundy aren’t exactly on the same page all of the time.
That’s a polite way of saying that Howard would really like to see Van Gundy fired, and he will use the threat of leaving town after next season as a means to ensure someone else is coaching the team next season.
There are a number of issues, but at the heart of the matter is that Dwight doesn’t like Stan’s coaching style. He thinks shootarounds and practices are too long, he thinks the offense should run through him in the fourth quarter, and he thinks Stan is too vocal and yells at his players too much.
Most of those complaints coincide with the things about Stan Van Gundy that make him one of the best coaches in the NBA. Long shootarounds and practices are about making sure his team is prepared for the next game. Yelling and vocalizing is about controlling what’s going on on the court and making sure his players know what he expects. And of course, using Dwight more in the fourth quarter would be a whole lot easier if the all-world center wasn’t shooting 48.8% from the free throw line. Opposing teams take one look at Dwight’s 58% overall shooting percentage and make the logical reach that it’s better to put him on the line than let him dunk.
Today after shootaround Van Gundy said what everyone has known – that Dwight went to Magic management and asked them to get rid of the coach. He even went so far as to name some coaches he would like to see brought in to replace Van Gundy, though sources close to the situation tell HOOPSWORLD the list was anything but impressive. It was comprised primarily of unknown NBA assistant coaches who have reputations as being players’ coaches.
Dwight wants a lighter hand at the reins.
Well, Dwight should be careful what he wishes for. Stan Van Gundy will be fine, and probably happier in a new situation. He has grown weary of what he sees as Howard’s immaturity and the accompanying issues. If the Magic decide to let him go, Van Gundy will be at the top of the wish list for every team looking to hire a new coach for next season.
But what about the Magic? Do they really let Howard choose the next head coach, or even have a say in the matter? Is that really what’s best for the long-term health of the franchise?
Seems like shaky ground for the Magic to stand on. Very shaky ground, indeed.
Rudy Gay Confident in Memphis Grizzlies
Memphis Grizzlies star Rudy Gay talks with HOOPSWORLD about the challenges of the lockout-shortened seasons, Mo Speights’ surprising contributions, Gilbert Arenas’ instant impact, the team’s playoff hopes and more in this exclusive interview.
At one time Marreese Speights was thought to be a foundational player for the Philadelphia 76ers. Taken with the 16th overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, Speights averaged 7.7 points on 50% shooting in 16 minutes per game as a rookie, and it looked like the Sixers might have found the eventual successor to Elton Brand. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way. Speights fell out of favor in Philly and was ultimately traded to the Memphis Grizzlies earlier this season, when the Grizzlies were in desperate need of front court help.
“It’s going great,” Speights tells HOOPSWORLD. “I’m just glad to have an opportunity to come to a different team and play basketball. Memphis has been good to me. Coach just told me to go out and play basketball. He said at the end of the day basketball is basketball, so he told me from the start to just go out there, be smart, play basketball, play with a lot of confidence. That’s what I’ve been trying to do.”
To his credit, Speights has embraced his opportunity with the Grizzlies. He has started 42 of 47 games with the team, posting career-highs of 8.7 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins couldn’t be happier with Speights and his other new additions – Dante Cunningham and Gilbert Arenas – especially now that the team is starting to get healthy.
“I think that getting Mo Speights and getting Dante Cunningham has replaced, and when I say this I don’t say this like we discard Darrell (Arthur) and discard Zach, but they came in and gave us the same thing,” Hollins tells HOOPSWORLD. “Mo is not as good of a scorer, but he’s more athletic and better above the rim player than Zach is. Dante plays like Darrell but he’s not the shooter Darrell is but he still helps in the pick-and-rolls and he still makes the hustle plays. He’s also not as big as Darrell so they kind of came in and took their spots on a lower level bought brought something a little bit different than our guys that we lost because Dante’s much quicker than Darrell and can play a few more guys that are quick and Mo spaces definitely above the rim, he’s blocked shots and he’s rebounded, he’s had some huge rebound games and he’s also scored so having those two guys and then bringing Zach back and bringing Gilbert adds a lot of depth and I think, and I didn’t think of it but I’m going to take credit for it, when Zach went back to the bench it balanced our lineup. We have outscored, since Zach’s been on the bench, in our last six games I think we’ve outscored the other teams bench every game and our starters still score so what we get is seven, eight guys in double figures versus having our four or five starters and then nobody on the bench so it’s good to have good balance and it’s good to have depth and it’s good to have versatility. If you can be versatile you can go against whatever teams throw at you and you’ll have a chance to win because in the NBA that’s what it’s about. It’s about matchups. If you can’t match up with other teams, I don’t care how good you are, you’re not going to beat them.”
Randolph may be back in the lineup, but he’s far from 100% healthy, and it remains to be seen whether or not he can get healthy with so little time off and the game coming in rapid-fire mode as we head for the playoffs. The Grizzlies’ playoff hopes may, indeed, rest more on the shoulders of Speights than they do on Randolph. For his part, Rudy Gay is confident Speights can get the job done.
“When Mo came here he knew that he was going to have to contribute right away,” says Gay. “We put him in the starting lineup and he played well for us. We were third in the conference at one point. He played great, and now that Zach’s back we have another dimension. He’s coming off the bench, he’s been cooperative with that fact, and he’s helping us with scoring. Mo’s also been scoring for us and playing good defense – some things I don’t think people in Philly knew that he could do.”
“He’s come in and done his job,” adds Mike Conley. “He’s done exactly what we’ve expected out of him. In Zach’s absence early we needed him to just come in and knock down shots when he’s open, scrap for rebounds, take charges, and do little things to help our team and he’s done everything and a little bit more.”
“I feel like everything happens for a reason,” Speights says of his success in Memphis. “I didn’t come to Memphis feeling like I had to prove anything, I just needed to come to a team where I would get an opportunity to play. I played my first two years in Philly, I played all the time. Last year something just happened and I didn’t play, so I just wanted to come to a team where I could do what I used to do.”
It has helped Speights a great deal to have Randolph to lean on, even when Zach wasn’t on the court himself.
“Zach has definitely helped me,” says Speights. “Even when he was hurt he was always in my ear talking to me, telling me little things about the offense, little things about the defense. It’s helped me a lot.”
“Mo’s been great,” says Randolph. “He’s an up-and-coming young guy with a lot of talent and I told him I think he could be an All-Star in this league one day. He can shoot the ball very well, has a great body, 6’11″ or 6’10″, great hands and he can really play. The young fella has been doing good and I’m encouraging him to keep on playing, stay aggressive, get rebounds, and try to help him out the best way I can.”
By all indications Marreese Speights has come home, find the opportunity in Memphis that he never quite found in Philadelphia. Still, the NBA is always in motion, and Speights knows anything can happen.
“It feels like home now, but crazy things happen in this league.”
For now, Speights is a critical part of the Memphis Grizzlies’ success, and that’s all that matters.
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