For those who missed it, there was a little drama in Orlando Thursday. Addressing the media before the Magic-Knicks game at the Amway Center, Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy admitted he was aware Dwight Howard had conversations with management about having him fired.
“It’s 12:02 right now,” said Van Gundy, according to ESPN. “If they want to fire me at 12:05, I'll go home and find something to do. I'll have a good day."
Almost on cue, the superstar center cut through the circle of media personnel and put his arm around Van Gundy, seemingly unaware of what his coach had just told the press. Feeling slightly awkward, Van Gundy quickly ducked out of the interview and left Howard to field questions about his quest to get his coach fired. Howard played coy and denied the rumors.
“Whatever happens at the end of the season is not under my control,” said Howard. “I haven’t said anything to anybody about anything.”
It is glaringly obvious things are getting a little tense in Disney World, and after Thursday night’s blowout loss at home to the eighth-seeded Knicks, those tensions are close to reaching their boiling point. The Orlando Magic have dropped eight of their last 12 games, including a current five-game losing streak. The Magic occupied the third seed in the Eastern Conference for a significant portion of the season, but now inexplicably own the sixth seed and are in jeopardy of falling further - seven of their 11 remaining games are against playoff-bound teams.
So what now? It’s safe to assume–barring some miracle in which Orlando regains some sense of chemistry–the Magic will get ousted in the first round of the playoffs.
Stan Van Gundy will most certainly get fired either before the playoffs start or right after Orlando is inevitably eliminated. Similar to Terry Francona and the 2011 Boston Red Sox, he has completely lost his team, which is now on the brink of a monumental collapse.
Their effort against the eighth-place Knicks, in which Dwight Howard shot 4-for-8 with eight points and eight rebounds was pathetic. As TNT NBA analyst, Charles Barkley pointed out on the halftime show during the Celtics-Bulls game, Orlando was simply going through the motions. It was almost like the players quit.
As for Dwight Howard–he will get traded this offseason. Although he agreed to waive his opt-out and return to the team next year, he has made it clear his intentions are not to remain in Orlando long-term. The Magic would be stupid not to actively shop him. It’s doubtful Magic General Manager Otis Smith and the front office wants to deal with another long, tumultuous year filled with the same drama surrounding their All-Star center.
Expect Orlando to move him this summer in a blockbuster deal, so they can rebuild. The Magic would be wise to rid themselves of both Van Gundy and Howard and start fresh with new faces and a new attitude.
A native of Wellesley, Mass., Aashish is a lifelong fan of the Red Sox, Patriots and Celtics. He graduated Wellesley High School in 2008, and is currently a senior at the University at Buffalo in Amherst, N.Y. You can read more of his work at bostonsportsradio.net and at facebook.com/BostonSportsRadio.net