The Magic fired Coach Stan Van Gundy and concluded to part ways with General Manager Otis Smith, severing ties with a couple of the architects of one of the most successful runs in organization history.
Smith and Van Gundy’s relationship with Howard was the centerpiece of drama the team faced all season and following their 2nd straight 1st-round playoff exit, CEO Alex Martins said the shift was warranted.
“It’s time for a new leadership and a new approach,” Martins claimed at a news conference to talk about the moves. “We simply came to the choice that we weren’t on the right track,”
Martins would not go into many specifics about what he is searching for in replacements, announcing only that he and ownership need to fill the GM post by June’s NBA draft.
He said he would sit down with ownership to begin straightening out the important points of both searches.
Orlando went 37-29 in the regular season but was eliminated in 5 games by Indiana after a flurry of late-season injuries that included back surgery for Howard. Orlando went 5-12 without him.
Martins said those sequential 1st-round playoff exits were “simply bad enough.”
In early April, Van Gundy claimed top-ranking team officers had told him that Howard had asked management to launch Van Gundy as a condition of the center signing a long term contract beyond 2013. Howard denied it.
Martins addressed that dispute without delay, pronouncing “At no time during that time did Dwight ask me to have Stan fired.”
With a connection with Smith going back to the Magic’s opening season when Smith was a player and a 5-year relationship with Van Gundy, Martins also called “the most difficult day of my career.”
Both Smith and Van Gundy are under agreement through next season and both of their contracts will be honored. The current assistant coaching staff has also been offered the chance to stay on for the moment.
Van Gundy coached the Magic for five seasons. He finished with a 259-135 record, going 31-28 in the playoffs.
Smith departs after 6 years. He was the architect of Magic teams that made it to the playoffs in each of those seasons, winning the Eastern Conference championship in 2009. But he also made 1 or 2 debatable moves, including trades for Vince Carter and Gilbert Arenas that failed to work out long term.
The day after the Magic’s season stopped with the loss to the Pacers, Smith said that he might need 1 or 2 days to even judge whether he would have liked to return to that spot following the tough year, setting it as a “50-50″ probability.
Van Gundy announced at the time he would have liked to return and was aspiring that the ultimate call would be about performance solely. Las Vegas odds
“When you’re talking a professional relationship, what matters — at least to me — is the results,” Van Gundy said. “I don’t care if it’s a business relationship where 2 people at work are driving a business to earn money, or if it’s a sports relationship, where the object is to win games.”