With Van Gundy gone, Dwight Howard has no excuse not to sign Magic extension
By Mike Bianchi
It's now up to you, Dwight Howard.
Not anybody else.
You got what you wanted.
They parted ways with general manager Otis Smith.
You are now the de facto coach and general manager of the team. You are calling the shots now. The flagging franchise is in your hands. You can either heal it and bring it back to life by signing a contract extension or you can squash it by abandoning it to go play for Jay-Z's team in New York.
What's it going to be, Dwight?
"The decision is up to Dwight now," Magic CEO Alex Martins said Monday after announcing that both Van Gundy and Smith have been relieved of their duties. "Dwight needs to decide where his future lies. It's been well-documented what our desires are. Now Dwight needs to decide what his are."
Martins did his best Monday to keep the blood of Van Gundy's firing off of Dwight's hands. He tried to separate Dwight from the ugly process of firing the best coach the Magic have ever had. In fact, Martins did a spectacular spinning job by attempting to paint Van Gundy as the grumpy coach who has a problem "relating to players" while portraying Dwight as the innocent bystander who wanted nothing to do with Van Gundy's firing.
Coming soon: Martins tries to sell us some oceanfront property in Topeka.
"I am saying in no uncertain terms that Dwight did not want to be part of this decision," Martins said. "He didn't not want to make this decision. He never asked me to make this decision. … Dwight Howard never asked me to fire Stan Van Gundy."
But did he ask owner Rich DeVos? Did he ask former CEO Bob Vander Weide? Martins, who has only been the CEO during this lockout-shortened season, could not or would not answer those questions. All he would say is that Dwight "never asked me" to fire Van Gundy.
Not that it really matters. Martins and the Magic did what they had to do Monday, even if it meant jettisoning a coach who is considered one of the best in the league. Fans don't buy tickets to watch Van Gundy draw on his chalkboard during timeouts. They buy tickets to watch Dwight dunk, defend and dominate. The Magic absolutely have to do everything in their power to keep Dwight because right now he is the only thing that keeps them relevant as a franchise.
And let's face it, Dwight would not be the first NBA superstar to get a coach fired. Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson did it. So did Kobe and Shaq. But there's a big difference: All of those superstars stayed with their teams and led them to championships.
This why the Magic are now staring at a potentially devastating PR problem. They have just fired their second-most valuable commodity and one of the top coaches in the league in Van Gundy. What happens now if their No. 1 commodity – Dwight – still decides he wants out to go play somewhere else?
How would it look if the Magic fired the best coach in franchise history and then still were forced to trade the best player in franchise history? It would be the Magic's worst Dwightmare. And it would ruin Dwight's image in a city that has poured their hearts and wallets into him for eight years.
Let's not forget, it was just a couple of months ago when Dwight decided to put off free agency for a year and professed his love and loyalty for Orlando. Remember what he said at that news conference? He said, "I'm very loyal and I've put loyalty above anything else. … I've got everything I've wanted right here in Orlando. All of that other stuff will come. But the first thing we have to do is win a championship. Right now we have a great opportunity to do that.''
Now we find out if Dwight is ready to live up to those words and show as much loyalty to the Magic as they've shown to him. They drafted him No. 1 out of high school when many of the experts said they should have drafted Emeka Okafor. They helped him develop into the most dominant center in the league. They have the second-highest payroll in the NBA and have spent gobs of money — sometimes foolishly — to try to surround him with the talent to win a championship. And now they have parted ways with the best coach in franchise history to try to keep him happy.
It's now up to you, Dwight.
Not anybody else.
So when are you coming home from Los Angeles to sign that extension?
I think he still has a big excuse. The Magic still aren't very good. I see why the Magic fired Van Gundy and Smith though because if they wanted to keep Dwight then they are showing him they are willing to do what he wants instead of saying "hey sign an extension and we'll get rid of them". They went ahead and did it as a act of good faith, but their team is still not very good. I think if Dwight leaves then getting rid of Van Gundy will look extremely dumb since he is one of the best coaches in the league, but did they really have a choice if they want to keep Dwight? I feel sorry for the Magic organization.
Dwight Keeps Adding to his List of doing the same things that Shaq has DONE!! Getting Van Gundy Fired is the Latest!!! Now if he can do like the Big Diesel and win 4 Rings..
While SVG was a good coach, I dont consider him a great one. Above the level of Spoelstra and Brown, but not on the level of Popovich or Jackson. Yeah, they are all time greats, but what I am saying is, I dont think SVG was at the level where he could be that extra push that a team needs for a championship.
I know people think this may be a bad firing albeit inevitable...but one thing I have learned as an adult...and this is at any level....you have to maintain professionalism. SVG is not one to hold his tongue, but he talks a bit too much and says things he shouldnt. Everyone has to take some of the blame in this Orlando fiasco. SVG, Smith, Dwight, and Martins.
This firing does not mean that Dwight will stay. Whether he stays or not, the firing was inevitable so on the surface it may look dumb in hindsight if Dwight leaves, but SVG and Smith had to go regardless.
I dont think Dwight will stay but if he does, what will keep him there is going to have to be a major signing. As far as coach? Well that cant just be anybody either. Maybe Jerry Sloan will come out of retirement?
What is best for him going for a ring, or at least thats he will try to do.
His excuse will be that Orlando is in no position to surround him with championship talent. Maybe he will wait until the end if the Magic can do some magic tricks to put a decent team around him.
Grown man dont need an excuse!
Howard and Lebron have a lot in common. Both professed their love for their team and city, and both will leave the same way. The Cleveland organization did everything and made every single move with Lebron's approval. Despite them denying that these moves were done for Dwight, they were and everyone knows it. Now looking at the Orlando cap situation, if I am Dwight, I would get out of there as fast as I can if he thinks they can't win the way the team is currently constructed. We will see if Howard has the decency to do the right thing and let the Orlando front office know he isn't coming back.
I never thought front office should listen to their players demands. Remember when Kobe wanted Jason Kidd for Bynum? Lakers didn't listen to Kobe and they end up winning multiple rings.