Out with the old, in with the new, that’s also kind of old? Shaquille O’Neal has been presented as the first candidate for the recently vacated GM position at the Orlando Magic organization, who got rid of both Otis Smith and Stan Van Gundy, in a clear stand of backing and investing their future in Dwight Howard.
Otis Smith spent six seasons as the Magic’s GM, helping build a team that reached the NBA finals in 2009 and the Eastern conference finals in 2010. Stan Van Gundy spent five seasons as the Magic’s head coach, reaching the post season all five times, accumulating a record of 259-135 (65.7%). The Magic failed to make it out of the First round these last couple of seasons.
But it wasn’t lack of success that ended Smith’s and Van Gundy’s job with the Magic. It was Dwight Howard, and their treatment of him. I don’t know if Howard will stay and re-sign with the Orlando Magic after 2013, but the Magic’s front office are gambling on the fact that he will. He wanted Van Gundy to fired, and eventually it happened. He wanted Otis Smith to be gone, and he was kicked out, no matter how it was presented to the press.
And that’s the main reason behind the logic of bringing in Shaquille O’Neal. His relationship off the court with Dwight Howard. Beyond all the banter and the trash talk between the two when O’Neal was still an NBA player, the two are friends outside basketball hours, mentioned as texting each other, with O’Neal even rumored to be a sort of confidante for Howard.
O’Neal is also a part of the Stan Van Gundy triangle, coached by him during his Miami Heat days. After a disappointing start to the 2005-2006 season under Van Gundy, O’Neal (allegedly) pushed for Van Gundy to fired and replaced by Pat Riley, which led to the Heat winning their first and only NBA title.
O’Neal has no experience in running an NBA team, which might suggest the Magic will go for a veteran head coach to help Shaq ease into the role. He won’t be meeting with Magic executives until next week anyway. Jerry Sloan, who has been resting since leaving the Utah Jazz midway through the 2010-2011 season, has been brought up as a possible name. Not only with the Magic, but also with the Charlotte Bobcats.