Magic CEO Alex Martins announced Monday that Van Gundy has been relieved of his duties. The Magic and GM Otis Smith have also mutually agreed to part ways.
A divorce years in the making is finally complete in Orlando where a promising season turned into a disaster with in-fighting, paranoia and injury. Van Gundy saw the writing on the wall a long time before now, and it was hard to imagine him wanting to return to an organization that he believed was desperate to push him out the door.
“On behalf of the DeVos Family, we sincerely appreciate and thank Otis and Stan for all that they have done on and off the floor for the Orlando Magic,” Martins said. “These are the days you dread in this business, but we feel it’s time for new leadership and new voices.”
In five seasons in Orlando, Van Gundy became one of the league’s top coaches, compiling a 259-135 record and leading the team to five playoff berths. Under Van Gundy, the Magic notched three division titles and advanced to the 2009 NBA Finals.
But an already strained relationship between Van Gundy and center Dwight Howard further deteriorated over the course of the season, culminating in a bizarre media session in which Van Gundy told reporters Howard had demanded his ouster.
In late April, Howard underwent surgery to repair a herniated disk in his back, ending his season and effectively ending Orlando’s hopes of advancing beyond the first round of the playoffs. The Pacers needed only five games to dispatch the Magic.