Stan Van Gundy's tenure as Magic head coach appears to be coming to a tumultuous head. And this is before the season comes to a close.
After rumors began circulating this week that many in Magic management believed Stan Van Gundy would resign at the end of the season because he did not want to deal with the constant Dwight Howard rumors and was set to move on from the team's suddenly mercurial and indecisive superstar players, the coaching fire heated up.
Now, Van Gundy has cleared the air. He said he does indeed have a target on his back and it is because of what his superstar player said to management at some point.
The truth, it seems, is that Dwight Howard has asked management to fire him.
"I know he has," Van Gundy told reporters after the Magic completed their shootaround (h/t Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel). "That's just the way it is. Again, I've been dealing with that all year. It's not anything real bothersome. You go out and do your job."
Doing his job is about all Van Gundy can do at this point. That task might be made tougher with this now public vote of no confidence from the superstar player (no word yet on whether he is playing tonight).
So why not make the story a little weirder. Dwight Howard walked by while the media was interviewing Van Gundy and began talking to Van Gundy. Howard stuck to his statement to Chris Broussard of ESPN.com yesterday denying that he had told management he wants Van Gundy fired.
Yeah, this is fun.
There have been plenty of rumors about Stan Van Gundy's future dating back even to last year. After Orlando's early exit from the postseason, rumors did circulate that Howard wanted a new voice in the locker room and that some players believed Van Gundy had "lost" his team. The franchise, knowing it had one of the best coaches in the league, pressed forward.
While the Magic raced out to the third best record in the East for much of this year, the team was not giving a consistent effort and laxing on defense. This team did not feel like one that could win the title despite its lofty verbiage and high aspirations.
It appears from what Van Gundy said, the way this season is going and the rumors circulating that Orlando and Stan Van Gundy are preparing to part ways. At this point, that is what is best for both sides. It will not happen in the middle of the season -- not at this point when there is no time for a new coach to take control and get the team ready for the postseason.
Discussion about this will probably be at the forefront of Van Gundy's end-of-season review.
The timing of Van Gundy's statements are what puzzles more. Why come out and say it now? Why address the rumors now when Van Gundy has done a good job pushing the rumors aside?
That is the question that deserves more examination. Yes, there were rumors circulating about but Van Gundy did not need to address them.
Van Gundy is someone that does not hold back any punches. He is going to speak his mind and let political correctness be damned. But this is pretty major. This is more than deflecting the attention on to him to take it off his team. This is directly pointing the cameras at he and his superstar.
Maybe that is the strategy of all this. Take the pressure off struggling players like Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson and J.J. Redick so they can play freer. I would not put such a concerted strategy of pressure between Van Gundy and Howard past him.
But, there is a lot of smoke behind closed doors. You have to figure something is burning.
It seems like, more than anything, Van Gundy is tired of all the distractions and as he calls it "bullshit." Van Gundy said he has been living with bullshit all season. And it has been exactly that.
This is just the latest chapter of it.
This franchise needs to move on and end all the drama. That, again, likely means Van Gundy will not be the team's head coach next year.