Coach Stan Van Gundy and General Manager Otis Smith met Thursday before the Magic’s practice. [...]
Their meeting came in the wake of small forward Mickael Pietrus‘ shouting match with Van Gundy near the bench on Wednesday night.
Frustrated with his dwindling role, Pietrus was pulled out of the game by Van Gundy after just three minutes into the final period during the Magic’s blow-out victory against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Amway Center.
Teammates, including co-captain Dwight Howard, tried to calm Pietrus. One player said that MP wanted to be traded if he’s not playing regularly, although MP told me he didn’t want to leave a contender.
Van Gundy and Pietrus both confirmed Thursday to the Sentinel that they exchanged words.
“MP was unhappy about when he went into the game and he was unhappy about me telling him to play defense,” Van Gundy said. “He didn’t like what I was saying and I didn’t like his response, so I took him out of the game.”
This was bound to happen sooner or later. The Orlando Magic have so many rotation-quality players, there are going to be instances when someone on the roster isn’t going to be happy with playing time. Last season, that was either Brandon Bass or Ryan Anderson. This year, because head coach Stan Van Gundy is making a concerted effort to play Rashard Lewis more at the small forward position, someone like Mickael Pietrus is feeling the pinch.
This situation won’t go away anytime soon, so it’ll be interesting to see how Van Gundy balances everything. Van Gundy has dealt with this before, so it’s not like it’s something new to him.