The Orlando Magic announced Monday they have relieved coach Stan Van Gundy of his duties. The team also announced general manager Otis Smith mutually decided to leave as well.
Alex Martins, Magic Chief Executive Officer, addressed the media in a decision that appeared to have been pre-determined.
“They both brought die-hard dedication and an unmatched work ethic on a daily basis,” Martins said. “Their success is well documented, as the Orlando Magic has had the fourth best record in the NBA over the last five years, and entering the playoffs this year the third most playoff wins over that period of time. The disappointment of getting eliminated in the first round of the playoffs these past two seasons played a primary role in our decision, as we feel our momentum towards winning a championship has paused. We wish Otis and Stan all the best and we look forward to taking the next step towards winning that championship.”
Van Gundy took over the head coaching position in 2007, replacing then coach Rick Carlisle. In five seasons Van Gundy recorded 266 wins in 394 games, never recording a losing season. In his second season, the Magic reached the NBA finals, losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in five games.
Controversy has surrounded the Magic as star center Dwight Howard’s expiring contract came closer to ending. On April 5th, Van Gundy briefed the media that Dwight Howard had asked for him to be fired, stirring immediate controversy which he would later apologize for.
Dwight Howard is signed for one more season with the Magic, with the team apparently in his own hands. As expected, Howard was made aware of the decision.
Sources are reporting that Donnie Walsh is a potential candidate to replace Otis Smith as general manager.