Around the NBA: Can Stan Van Gundy, Dwight Howard coexist?

The Stan Van Gundy-Dwight Howard situation in Orlando is just the latest in a long line of player-coach feuds.
BY JOHN ROHDE, Staff Writer, jrohde@opubco.com Published: April 7, 2012
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Stan Van Gundy remains coach of the Orlando Magic, for now, just as Dwight Howard remains the Magic's All-Star center, for now.

When a head coach routinely is paid roughly one-fifth to one-tenth as much as his star player, questions abound as to who actually possesses the power.

After a shootaround session last Thursday morning, Van Gundy was asked about his ongoing feud with Howard. In a shockingly refreshing moment of candor, Van Gundy disclosed Howard wanted him fired.

Van Gundy said he heard this directly from people at the top of Magic management. Howard countered with, "I haven't said anything to anybody about anything," essentially accusing Van Gundy and/or Orlando management of lying.

Shortly after that interview, Van Gundy and Howard met and cleared the air with Magic general manager Otis Smith, agreeing to coexist the rest of the season. Orlando then went out that night and lost 96-80 at home to the New York Knicks for the Magic's fifth straight loss. Howard played in a daze, finishing with eight points, eight rebounds and five turnovers in 40 minutes, perhaps trying to show who truly wields the most power in Orlando.

"It wasn't awkward (Thursday) night," Van Gundy said. "It wasn't awkward today. It wasn't any different than it was two days ago, three days ago, two weeks ago, three weeks ago or anything else."

Van Gundy insists he wants to return as Magic coach next season. Howard has said he will play with the Magic through his option year next season. There's no telling what actually will transpire this summer.

"I don't really regret doing it," Van Gundy said of Thursday's disclosure. "It's the speculation. Everybody's sort of trying to massage the situation without saying anything, and I don't know, to me it's always easier to be honest and move on."

OTHER 2011-12 INCIDENTS

The Howard-Van Gundy feud is simply the latest in a long line between player and coach. The 2011-12 season was shortened to 66 games due to the lockout, but feuds have remained at a steady clip:

Paul Westphal: The Sacramento Kings fired coach Paul Westphal after a 2-5 start, thanks in large part to his increasingly strained relationship with volatile 21-year-old center DeMarcus Cousins, who had made demands to be traded. The Maloof family opted to punt Westphal. "We're in a situation here where you can't take a philosophical vacation because things are happening in real time," Kings president of basketball operations Geoff Petrie said. "You start to keep seeing the same things over and over again, you can't sit around and meditate forever about how you're going to approach them or try and change them."

Mike D'Antoni: Last season, Carmelo Anthony forced the Denver Nuggets' hand for a sign-and-trade with the Knicks. Anthony, however, refused to surrender his one-on-one offensive method for D'Antoni's up-tempo approach and also played little defense. With frustration growing, D'Antoni resigned March 13 after going 18-24 and was replaced by Mike Woodson, who previously was forced out of Atlanta following a feud with Josh Smith. "We just agree to disagree on some things," Smith said at the time.

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