Friday, April 6, 2012

Stan Van Blows Up The Season (4.5.12)

Stan Van Gundy just sent in his resignation. After months, actually years, of dealing with the Dwight Howard debacle, Stan Van made management's choice much easier this coming offseason with his revelations to the press that Dwight Howard has gone to management and asked for him to be fired. Stan and Dwight have had their dust ups in the past, but they have also been a very successful tandem. They have been a perennial 50 win team since 2007 and they even made a trip to the finals in 2009.

Stan Van Gundy's timing could not be worse. His statements came with just weeks left in the season and with the Magic on a five game losing streak. Falling from the 3rd seed in the East to the 6th seed in a week, Stan dropped this bomb, "I was told it was true by people in our management." Stan is referring to the constant rumors regarding Dwight's desire for him to be fired. With Dwight holding all of Orlando hostage up until his decision to terminate his early opt out this coming offseason, it is surprising that Stan finally lost his head at this point in time. Stan Van kept the Magic together despite the obvious detachment of Howard for most of the season. For Stan to come out and confirm Dwight's pleas, it seems the roles have switched. Now it is Stan who is detached and he seems ready to part at any time, stating this tidbit, "It's 12:02 right now. If they want to fire me at 12:05, I'll go home and find something to do. I'll have a good day." Stan just seems done with Dwight. With his contract up at the end of the season, Stan does not want to have to kiss Dwight's ass in order to get an extension.

Stan also seems to have split the locker room, with some players in his camp and others in Dwight's camp. With high hopes for the postseason, the Magic seem done. The Orlando Magic are the only team that can can beat Miami to represent the East. Miami simply has no answer for Dwight. Some think Chicago can topple Miami, but Chicago can be bottled up. Lebron James can check Derrick Rose and make him pretty much useless. When Rose isn't in control, the Bulls just aren't that good. I know Chicago has had a nice run recently with Rose out of the lineup, but come playoff time, that won't happen. Dwight is the only answer to the Heat. He is a dominant post presence that must be doubled. The Heat have no size and Dwight could actually average a 20/20 against them. Once Miami caves in and decides to double Dwight, that will play right into the Magic's strength, as they love to kick out to open shooters for 3's. However, with the most recent events occurring, the Magic certainly will not be playing their best ball. Hours after Stan's revelation, Dwight posted one of his worst games against the Knicks, scoring just 8 points with 8 rebounds and 5 turnovers. Dwight did not score a single point until he got a gimme dunk at the end of the third quarter. His lackadaisical defense was horrid and Charles Barkley bluntly stated that the Magic quit as Orlando was blown out 96-80.

Although Stan's comments are coming at an odd time, he may have just saved Orlando from having an awkward offseason. The Magic front office now know that they need to search for a new coach, and nobody will be asking Dwight about his "desire" for Stan to remain the coach. The media now knows that Stan will be gone, thus there will be no need to bug the players for comments regarding their coach and his next contract. Stan dealt with a circus all season, and now he can't wait to get out of it. He knows that he will be Dwight Howard's coach for maybe a month and a half longer, and that's it. Stan ensured that he will not have to deal with the circus involving Dwight's next contract. If this season was any indication, Dwight obviously does not know what he wants to do. He wavered back and forth all year regarding the decision to sign an extension with Orlando, and then he put off the ordeal for one year by terminating his ETO. All of these problems will pop up once again next season and Stan seems to be bailing.

Ironically, Stan's step down will make life even harder on Dwight Howard, not easier. Orlando will have to install a new system next year and I doubt that they will be as good with their current lineup. Stan gets a lot out of his system. The Magic are a limited team. They are one of the few NBA teams that depend wholly upon one player. Everything goes through Dwight for their inside out game. The last successful team to play like this was the Houston Rockets of the mid 90's with Hakeem Olajuwon. Dwight is no Hakeem. Now if Dwight leaves, he will be known as a traitor and a player that ran out a great coach. Dwight's only chance for success in Orlando will be to resign early in the season and rebuild with a new coach, a new system, and some new players. With Stan in the rearview, the Magic will probably struggle to begin next season, and that may push Dwight even closer to leaving. Even more apparent is that Dwight will receive a huge backlash if he leaves.

Those hurt the most by this revelation will not be Dwight, Stan, or the organization. It will be Orlando Magic fans. They will most likely lose out on their best coach and their best player. With the playoffs rolling around it can't be fun to root for a team that is divided between player and coach. Orlando loves Dwight, but he may be running out of charm. He has been testing Orlando's patience for a year now, and it is only going to get worse. Even worse, imagine if the Magic somehow succeed this postseason. What if they were to magically represent the East in the finals, or even win the finals! Stan would have to be resigned. Dwight would have to answer numerous questions regarding his affinity for the coach. Dwight would have to lie and say that he and Stan get along just fine. Dwight's request for Stan's removal will never be forgotten. It will always linger. The only way to get away from it is a split. Stan made his choice. He's ready to leave. Now all that has to happen is for the Magic to bow out in the playoffs and move along.

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