AP Photo/Carlos Osorio
The cat’s out of the bag. Dwight wants Stan Van Gundy gone, even if he continus to deny it. Off with his head! Now that the rumors have been confirmed to be true, one becomes inclined to put himself in the shoes of the ownership in Orlando. Keep Dwight or keep Stan? You have to send someone packing, so who’s it going to be?
Sometimes it’s best to make a pros and cons list.
Dwight Howard is good
Not just good — great. We’re talking about an indescribable talent who, believe it or not, still has room to grow and improve his game. There’s no question that Dwight has the tools to be the centerpiece of a championship team. He proved it in 2009 and at this point, arguing against Dwight being a top five player is an exercise in futility.
What strikes me about the Dwight era is how conditional his greatness is. He’s been well-coached, and at the peak of this era (2009), the team’s successes revolved around Dwight. But it also had just as much to do with defense, red-hot shooting, and productive teammates. In a word, Dwight is dominant, but it is clear that the setting and characters have to be in place for him to find success. That’s the formula.
Pro Dwight: (1-0)
Stan Van Gundy is good
Not just good — a god (no, not God, a god. A god of coaching). In fact, SVG is the best coach the Orlando Magic has ever had and I could count on two hands and two feet all the teams in the NBA that would want him as their head coach.
As if his in-game success is not enough, keep in mind that Van Gundy has handled himself admirably through Dwightgate, trade rumors, a lost championship, losing streaks, and terrible acquisitions (Gilbert Arenas, et al.)
Regardless of the bad weather, SVG stays the course, stays confident, stays within his gameplan, and wins a lot of games. When you have LeBron James calling you a contender in your worst season in five years, you must be doing something right.
Pro Stan: (1-1)
Even with Van Gundy gone, Dwight might jump ship
This is where you have to think about this potential “choice” as an investment. Based strictly on the fact that coaches have a longer shelf life than players, Van Gundy is the better long-term option. Why take 20 dollars now when you can have 20,000 dollars over the next decade? Investment 101. So long as it’s not a pyramid scheme.
The bigger risk you take in going with Dwight over Van Gundy is losing Dwight and Van Gundy. Let’s say the front office decides to concede to Dwight’s wishes and SVG is fired. Pieces are moved around, a few guys are brought in, player personnel shifts, and Orlando ends up being a marginal team in 2013. Dwight realizes that Van Gundy wasn’t the problem and the grass is still greener somewhere else. So now that he’s given Orlando another chance, and they have failed, he jumps ship too.
What then? Bring in a Mike Brown-caliber guy to deal with a handful of bad contracts and no superstar? That’s not the right way to do things and if a situation like this is even remotely possible, you cannot take that risk.
Pro Stan: (1-2)
What about Stan with a clean slate?
The Magic are getting close to the end of a few bad contracts and we don’t know what SVG can do with an entirely new crop of fresh legs and fresh faces.
That’s a big problem. In no way am I saying that Van Gundy can’t coach without Dwight Howard, but it’s hard to say that this system — the Dwight Howard pick-and-roll system — could work without Dwight. That amount of uncertainty should be taken into account.
Pro Dwight: (2-2)
There is not a guy who can fill Dwight’s shoes, but there’s also not a coach who can fill Stan’s shoes. That is, unless you can figure out a way to bring Gregg Popovich or Tom Thibodeau into town. Not going to happen. The bottom line is that Stan Van Gundy will be able to coach a winning team even with a Dwight Howard replacement. I’m not convinced the Magic would be a winning team without Van Gundy, though. That’s not to take anything away from Dwight, but let’s just to say that he’s only one piece of a puzzle. The success Orlando has achieved in the last four years, as mentioned before, is a result of coaching in conjunction with Dwight’s presence.
Pro Stan: (2-3)
Let me get this straight. Dwight could have gone wherever he wanted, so he shopped himself around for a little while and decided to stay in Orlando. Of all the things to complain about or dislike in Orlando, he picks Stan Van Gundy? Really? Your big beef is one of the only beacons of light and hope in the entire organization? There must be something we don’t know — some sordid underbelly or history of lies, corruption, and years of deception from Van Gundy towards Dwight.
Because, if not, that’s crazy. Unless you have strong personal misgivings about your boss or coworkers, you grin and bare it. You deal with it, keeping in mind that you’re not a victim of some malicious act of tyranny. Moreover, you have the privilege of working for and with one of the best in the business.
And hey, if your sensibilities are at stake with SVG in the locker room, let’s hear how and why. Otherwise, this idea of Dwight wanting Van Gundy gone just sounds silly.
Pro Stan: (2-4)
Can’t we all get along? Is there a voice in Dwight’s ear, nudging him and reminding him on a daily basis, “Hey! Hey man! You have a really good situation here. I bet Stan’s not as bad as you think he is.”
You don’t hear Van Gundy complaining about his relationship with Dwight, other than to confirm the reports that the big fella wants him fired. What we have here is a one-sided problem.
Pro Stan: (2-5)
Just like how the numbers don’t lie, this list doesn’t lie. You’re better off signing a long-term contract with Stan Van Gundy, letting the master work, and letting Dwight walk if he doesn’t like the flavor.