x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Dwight Howard's next trick? Make Stan Van Gundy disappear

The Orlando Magic centre has said he would stay with the club for another season, and apparently that will only happen if management fire the coach.

Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, left, and star centre Dwight Howard have feuded most of the season.
Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, left, and star centre Dwight Howard have feuded most of the season.

 

We knew the Dwight Howard drama had not fully played out. When the Orlando Magic centre said last month he would stay with the club for another year, the decision only delayed more theatrics. They arrived even sooner than expected.

It now seems certain that he or Stan Van Gundy, the coach, will be looking for a new place of employ next autumn. That became clear after a bizarre media session last week when Van Gundy said he knew that Howard had asked management to fire him.

Moments later, unaware of the bombshell Van Gundy had dropped, Howard strolled over and put his arm around his coach. When confronted with Van Gundy's comments, Howard indulged in evasive manoeuvres.

"Whatever happens at the end of the season is out of my control," he said. "I am a player. I am not the general manager."

Orlando have lost five of six, and if they stumble in the play-offs Van Gundy is the ready-made fall guy. The coach, who is well-regarded as a tactician, seems tired of the tension, which he knows too well: he went through a similar coach-and-star struggle with Shaquille O'Neal in Miami. The coach lost, as he normally does, and Pat Riley stepped in to lead the Heat to their only NBA title.

Unless management is convinced the "too-loyal" Howard will leave after next season, when his contract expires, Van Gundy will be leaving in a few weeks.

At least Van Gundy is done with the doublespeak.

That has been left to Howard.

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