Stan Van Gundy was fired Monday as the head coach of the Orlando Magic. (Michael Conroy / Associated…)
Writers from around the Tribune Co. discuss the Orlando Magic's firing of Coach Stan Van Gundy and General Manager Otis Smith. Feel free to join the conversation with a comment of your own.
Baxter Holmes, Los Angeles Times
Orlando’s management has a hilarious history of mis-hires and misfires (Chuck Daly? Billy Donovan?), but the move to sweep aside both Stan Van Gundy and Otis Smith should be filed under “gutless.” They will regret it, too, when Dwight Howard, who's the puppeteer behind these sackings and has the Magic obeying his every whim, ditches Orlando for Brooklyn or Los Angeles or elsewhere. Yes, it’s a player’s league and centers like Howard aren’t in surplus, but good coaches are hard to find, and Van Gundy, the winningest in Orlando's history, was one of the best.
But with both Van Gundy and Smith gone and Howard likely soon to follow, Orlando’s management will soon start from scratch. You don’t need hindsight to see that mistakes were made, are being made and will continue to be made. That’s what this organization does best.
Shannon J. Owens, Orlando Sentinel
I don’t think Magic executives are built for regret. I don’t think most executives or leaders are built for regret, for that matter.
For the most part, they make decisions, good or bad, and move forward. Given the tenuous relationship between Dwight Howard and Stan Van Gundy, Magic management had to make a move. It makes sense why they would choose to cut ties with Van Gundy after the coach publicly outed Howard and top management regarding his future a few months ago during an awkward interview.
It also makes sense why the Magic wouldn’t fight to keep Otis Smith on board after a slew of unsuccessful player transactions.
Personally, I would have liked to see the Magic stick with Van Gundy. But if losing Van Gundy gave the Magic any real chance at keeping Howard, then it’s a decision I’m sure they’ll have no problem sleeping on.
Ira Winderman, South Florida Sun Sentinel
The regret only will come if Dwight Howard is not in a Magic uniform on opening night next season.
When it comes to throwing quality, championship-level coaches overboard, fans tend to be forgiving; just ask the Los Angeles Lakers in the wake of Magic Johnson's early-career power play.
But if Dwight is dealt, then it seems farcical that a team would not only deal away its star attraction, but cast aside two men who could help develop the next star attraction.
This should have been handled in the opposite order:
The Magic first should have gone to Howard, discreetly, and issued an ultimatum: If you stay, who do you want as coach and general manager? If the answer was suitable, then bye-bye Stan Van Gundy and Otis Smith.
The celebration of Howard returning would have muted any discontent about Stan and Otis being dumped.
Instead, the Magic essentially are recasting themselves as an expansion team, as if it's 1989 all over again in Central Florida.
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Will the Magic regret firing Stan Van Gundy and Otis Smith?