The Orlando Magic sent a message Monday when they parted ways with head coach Stan Van Gundy and general manager Otis Smith. Did I write message? I’m sorry, I mean held up a white flag.
Ridding the organization of Van Gundy serves as a symbol of devotion to superstar Dwight Howard in the eyes of some, but in reality, it was a move that simply meant the Magic were surrendering.
There will be no more posturing on Orlando’s part. It was a move that signified everything that is currently wrong with the NBA, as the Magic essentially strapped Howard into the driver’s seat, unconditionally, for the first time. And now, this organization will go wherever Howard takes them.
The funny thing, though? Howard doesn’t appear amenable to committing to Orlando in any capacity.
On the day coach Stan Van Gandy and general manager Otis Smith lost their jobs with the Magic, a source who has spoken with Howard recently said the All-Star center desperately wants to be traded prior to the start of next season…when the news first broke Monday that Van Gundy had been fired and Smith had agreed to leave, the knee-jerk reaction was to assume that Howard had won the power struggle, and the Magic would now empower him to have a say in who the new hires would be — provided he agreed to sign a contract extension and commit to the Magic for the long term.
But in fact, the source said, Howard wants out of Orlando more than he ever did before in order to start a new chapter of his career. And it is well-known throughout the league that the Magic do not want to endure another soap opera season like the one they just experienced.
After being put in the position he seemingly desired to be in all along, Howard is now back to his old tricks. He has no intention of remaining a part of the chaos that has become the Magic organization, and that holds true with or without Van Gundy and Smith in the fold.
But that’s not where Orlando went wrong. Parting ways with Van Gundy and Smith were two very poor decisions, but they’re not the bona fide downfall of this team. That honor belongs to the Magic brass believing Howard would consider staying at all.
After last season’s fiasco, Orlando never had any hope of retaining Howard. Their over the cap space, will be void of a competent floor general once Jameer Nelson takes his talents elsewhere and most importantly, are the home to Howard’s near irreparable image.
Howard may never recover from this public relations soap opera he created. However, if he remains in Orlando, that notion becomes a certainty. He has run the coach and GM out of town, leaving him with no safety-net, no one to blame for the Magic’s future transgressions but himself.
Subsequently, at this point, Howard doesn’t merely want a fresh start, he needs it. Perhaps in a different setting, he can begin to repair his image the way LeBron James has in Miami. But in Orlando, where his loyalty and will to win and coexist with his supporting cast will continue to be questioned? Not so much.
Howard doesn’t have a chance in hell of piecing back together the life he once had in Orlando, and the DeVos family was foolish to believe he ever did. It is the narrow scope through which this entire circus was viewed through to that perpetuated the demise of this team.
And now, there’s no turning back. Wrong has no longer a possibility, it’s a reality.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.