The Associated Press is reporting that the Orlando Magic fired coach Stan Van Gundy Monday. General manager Otis Smith is also leaving the organization.
According to the AP, the decision to fire Van Gundy and part ways with Smith centers around both of their relationships with Dwight Howard. The Magic's season was filled with drama after the All-Star center requested to be traded.
Howard allegedly said that if he were going to resign with the team, Van Gundy would have to go, USA Today reports. Howard never made such a statement publicly, but Van Gundy claimed he had heard that was the case from officials within the Magic organization.
For the second straight year, the Magic lost in the first round of the playoffs. Howard was out with back injuries that required surgery, the AP reports. The Magic went 5-12 without him. They were eliminated in round 1 of the Eastern Conference playoffs by the Indiana Pacers.
Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins made the announcement Monday that Stan Van Gundy had been relieved of his duties, and that the organization had agreed to part ways with GM Otis Smith. The statement was posted on the Magic's official site.
"On behalf of the DeVos family, we sincerely appreciate and thank Stan and Otis for all that they have done on and off the floor," said Martins. "These are the days you dread in this business, but we feel it's time for new leadership and new voices."
Martins also noted that both Smith and Van Gundy "brought die-hard dedication and an unmarked work ethic on a daily basis." He also said that being eliminated from the first round of the NBA playoffs was a major factor in this decision.
Van Gundy coached the Magic for 5 seasons. He finished with a 259-135 record, and under his tutelage, the Magic went 31-28 in the playoffs, the AP reports.
He led the Magic to the NBA finals in 2009 where they lost against the Los Angeles Lakers.
He previously coached the Miami Heat.
Otis Smith became the GM of the Magic in 2006, and became president of basketball operations in 2010, USA Today reports.
The day after the Magic were eliminated from the playoffs, Smith said that he wasn't even sure he would want to stay with the organization, the AP reports.
Van Gundy, on the other hand, was hoping to return and hoped the decision would be based on his performance as coach, and not factors such as his relationship with Howard.
"When you're talking a professional relationship, what matters, at least to me is the results, " said Van Gundy according to the AP. "I don't care if it's a business relationship where two people at work are driving a business to make money or if it's a sports relationship where the object is to win games. Those kinds of relationships should be based on results, not on do we like each other or whatever. So, to me, the relationship was great. There's a lot of wins and everything else."
Smith called this season, the "longest shortest" season the Magic has had. He acknowledged that most sports franchise go through bouts of uncertainty, and unfortunately, it was the Magic's turn to experience that.
Smith played for the Magic from 1989-92. He also played for the Golden State Warriors and the Denver Nuggets.