There are several “earmuffs” moments in this piece so please think twice about reading it out loud to small children.
The past week has been even more of a ludicrous scene of Tom Fuckery than the Orlando Magic have grown accustomed to this season. Dwight Howard has subjected his team, the only one he has ever played for, to a myriad of split decisions followed by reversals, retractions, and second guessing. It is enough to drive any organization mad. Despite this perpetual distraction, the Magic plodded along, and despite Howard’s injury late in the season, still managed to make the playoffs.
They didn’t make it very far, though.
Since then all Hell has broken loose and this week has been the zenith of stupidity.
Orlando cleaned house as the team fired head coach Stan Van Gundy and ‘politely’ asked general manager Otis Smith to step down. It was apparent that Van Gundy would not last with the Magic after reporting to the media that he was aware that Howard had asked Rich DeVos, the owner of the Magic, to fire him. It made for quite an awkward moment. Van Gundy’s best line is that he doesn’t like bullshit. Howard certainly created enough of that this season. Nonetheless, Howard had his wish granted. If the Magic Kingdom is good for anything besides humidity it’s granting wishes.
As for Smith, it was clear that he needed to go. During his tenure in Orlando he did his best Danny Ferry impression by surrounding Howard with mediocre, or beyond their prime players. When he did have legitimate players on the roster (read: Marcin Gortat and Brandon Bass) those players did not fit into Van Gundy’s system and were essentially condemned to the bench. The expelling of Van Gundy and Smith had to be a joint package.
With two of Dwight’s largest nuisances removed, one would think that he would now be more complacent to stay in Orlando, but as Chris Sheridan reports, that couldn’t be further from the truth. As he stated long ago, Howard still wants out of Orlando and unlike before, it looks as though the Magic are ready to field offers for their star center.
Keeping in mind that they have an unhappy, or rather just stubborn, player to move, the Magic also need to replace their head coach and GM. This is where it gets idiotic.
For about 24 hours, Shaquille O’Neal, the Big Aristotle, was rumored to be in line to interview for the vacancy at GM. Yes, Shaq. Simply put: what a fucking joke! Luckily for everyone, it was, or at least it sort of was. It didn’t take long for everyone to question the move and speculate, correctly, that the rumor originated in Shaq’s camp only to bolster his image. There was no possible way that Shaq would ever actually be the GM of the Magic as he and Howard have had a tit-for-tat relationship since Howard entered the league. On top of that, Shaq’s comprehension of the new collective bargaining agreement is probably on par with a first grader’s ability to under stand quantum theory. Thank goodness this story ended when it did before it really caught any real traction.
And we thought Dwight’s drama was too much.
As for a replacement head coach, none other than Jerry Sloan was mentioned as a possible replacement. Sloan coached the Utah Jazz since fish ventured onto land for the first time. He has an impressive coaching resume built mostly with the likes of John Stockton and Karl Malone leading the Jazz to two consecutive Finals appearances in 1997 and ’98.
However, his departure from Utah, midseason, two years ago is the result of a tainted relationship with Deron Williams, who was the team’s All Star point guard. Spats with players are nothing new for Sloan, who rigidly coaches the flex offense. Because of this, it would not seem like a good match for Howard, who, it has been rumored, wants to have his say in how the Magic conduct their business on and off the court. Sloan simply would not put up with Howard’s shit.
Howard won’t get his way in Orlando. He has already tarnished and tainted his reputation with the organization and it is long past due for him to move on. He is still under contract for the 2012-13 season but this relationship is over. He will not sign an extension nor should he be offered one by the organization. Trading him is the only option. If it were up to Howard he would leave the Magic high and dry with his scorched Earth tactics but Orlando has the option to get plenty in return for one of the league’s most dominant big men. Once the draft lottery is complete, Howard will be shopped around. Hopefully, where ever he ends up, he will not be as big a headache as he has been for the Magic.