Where, exactly, do Dwight Howard and Stan Van Gundy go from here?
The answer is, nobody knows, but it’ll be on TNT tonight when the Orlando Magic plays the New York Knicks at 7 p.m. (EDT).
After the Magic’s morning shootaround, Van Gundy chose to comment on an Orlando TV report that Howard had asked Magic management to fire him. “I know he has,” Van Gundy said. “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.”
How does Van Gundy know this?
“I was told it was true by people in our management, so right from the top.”
Van Gundy went on to say he wasn’t worried about his future. “They haven't told me anything and they don't need to. I'm the coach right now, and I'm the coach until they decide I'm not the coach,” he said. “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.”
That’s when things turned awkwardly wacky, as Howard walked up and hugged Van Gundy, unaware that his coach had just confirmed a report that Howard had denied. (There’s getcher-popcorn-worthy video here.) “Stan, we're not worried about that, right?” Howard asked.
The two chatted briefly and Howard went on ... seemingly unaware. “I woke up just like you did yesterday, and I saw all of a sudden I want Stan out of here. Why would I want Stan to be fired with 12 games left in the season? Who's going to be the coach? Why would I want Stan fired with 12 games to go?”
Howard isn’t going anywhere, at the moment. He signed a waiver in order to finish this season and start the next with the Magic. “Whatever happens at the end of the season is not under my control. I am a player for the Magic. I am not the GM. I am not [team owner] Rich DeVos. I am not [CEO] Alex Martins. So that’s not my job. So you guys should stop with every other week it’s trying to find something, because there’s nothing. There’s nothing. I haven’t said anything to anybody about anything. Our main concern is winning. So all the other stuff should stop.”
What happens now with the coach, if the player — the star player in a star league — isn’t going anywhere?
“Nobody has to go anywhere if they fire me,” Van Gundy said. “I don't think [the players] are too worried about that. I don't take anybody with me. ... When it comes out that one of the highest-profile players in the league has asked for his coach to be fired, it's going to be a story. ... But nobody needs to worry about me.
“I'll be fine. If I need to, I can get another job. I have money put away, so there's no concern about job security, and there shouldn't be any real concern about what Dwight wants right now, quite honestly. That's not what it's about.”