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Friday , Apr , 20 , 2012 Hoopsvibe

Rumor: Dwight Howard tells Magic he’s done with Stan Van Gundy?

Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard told team owner Rich DeVos that he won't play for coach Stan Van Gundy anymore, WKMG in Orlando reported on Thursday. Howard was angered that Van Gundy publicly divulged that the superstar center asked management to have him fired, WKMG said, citing sources.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Dwight Howard is an All-World talent, but the Orlando Magic must wonder if he’s worth the trouble?

Consider Howard's past year: he requested a trade several times; he then told the world he wanted to stay with Orlando; he somewhat reluctantly opted-in for 2013; and has asked ownership several times to fire Coach Stan Van Gundy and/or GM Otis Smith.

Howard is arguably the league’s top defensive player and center; however, his personal situation has hijacked the season. His every move, word, and comment has dominated the news.

It’s created a massive distraction. Think Carmelo Anthony with the Denver Nuggets in 2011 and LeBron James with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2010. Except there’s no end in sight to Howard’s ‘Indecision’ because he opted-in for 2013, which means the saga will continue.

Unless the Magic take action. For instance, the Lakers offered Andrew Bynum for Howard. Smith should see if that deal is still available because Bynum is amost Howard's equal and has room to improve.

Most importantly, such a move would bring closure. The current situation with Howard can’t continue.

--Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.

 

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Sunday , Apr , 08 , 2012 Hoopsvibe

Stan Van Gundy: I want to coach Orlando next year

“I don’t have a scenario in my head where I wouldn’t,” Van Gundy told the Orlando Sentinel after he was asked whether he wants to return. “They’re going to have to make decisions. But I’m a basketball coach and I know this: I don’t want to go anywhere else. I mean, I love Orlando, and this is where I want to be. And I want to coach.”

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: The superstar is in denial mode. The GM is downplaying everything. And the coach just wants to return next season.

Yes, the Orlando Magic are a mess.

Instead of worrying about the upcoming playoffs, Dwight Howard, Otis Smith, and Stan Van Gundy are pre-occupied with what will happen next.

For Howard, that means changing the Magic for the 2012-13 season. For Smith and Van Gundy, that means keeping their jobs and continuing to blame Howard.

So much is unknown in Central Florida. However, two things are crystal clear.

First, the Magic have no chance at beating the Chicago Bulls and/or Miami Heat in a best of seven series with Howard’s situation hanging over them like an ominous rain cloud.

Second, Howard opting-in for 2013 was supposed to bring closure to the Magic. Clearly, it hasn’t. The reports and rumours continue to flood the internet, while anonymous sources continue to speak out.

Perhaps all involved would have been better off if Howard was traded last March at the deadline.

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Thursday , Mar , 15 , 2012 Hoopsvibe

Dwight Howard Officially Opts-in for 2012-13

Dwight Howard just texted me that he has signed the waiver of his Early Termination Option.

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: It's official. No more back-and-forth. And, for now, no more speculation.

ESPN scribe Chris Broussard is reporting that Dwight Howard has signed the opt-in clause, meaning he'll likely spend 2012-13 with the Orlando Magic.

A few things worth noting:

1) GM Otis Smith and the Magic must decide if they want Howard, after all. The center's flip-flopping created a sopa opera that made LeBron James and 'The Decision' look good.

The entire organization took a backseat to Howard's selfishness. Franchise face or not, he has some apologizing to do and should start with fans and teammates.

2) If they stick with Howard, the Magic have time - but not too much - to find a co-star. If they fail, the same saga could occur next year when Howard's contract expires.

3) The Magic and Howard must reflect on how they handled this situation. Both team and player have looked unprofessional. And both team and player must learn from their mistakes.

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Tuesday , Mar , 13 , 2012 Hoopsvibe

Gone Too Far: Why Orlando MUST trade Dwight Howard

One source close to the situation told ESPN The Magazine's Ric Bucher that the Magic have promised Howard that they will add a quality player before Thursday's deadline and that Howard can decide the fate of both GM Otis Smith and coach Stan Van Gundy at the end of the season if he signs an extension.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: There’s a popular television show called Intervention where families confront a sick individual battling an addiction.

Perhaps you have seen it on A&E. Perhaps not.

Hopefully, someone in the Orlando Magic ownership group has seen Intervention. And hopefully, they confront President Alex Martin about his disease: appeasing Dwight Howard.

Sure, Howard is the top center in the NBA, but he has yet to win a championship, an MVP trophy, or even develop a go-to move on the offensive end.

He is raw, immature, and has handled his pending free agency like a teen pop diva. Annoying teen crooner Justin Beiber is more professional than Howard.

Still, the Magic continue to give Howard whatever he likes, or whatever they think he’ll like in order to have him stay.

They’ve assumed several bad contracts in an attempt to give Howard a worthy supporting cast. Gilbert Arenas, Vince Carter, Rashard Lewis, and Hedo Turkoglu all backfired and destroyed the team's financial flexibility.

Recent reports have surfaced that the Magic are chasing Monta Ellis because they think a shot-happy, crass combo guard will convince Howard to play through 2013 and sign a long-term extension.

HoopsVibe has given our opinion on Ellis before. He's not the answer.

Today, reports are surfacing that Magic President Alex Martin has told Howard he can decide the fate of coach Stan Van Gundy and GM Otis Smith.

Sadly, the inmate is now running the entire asylum.

Van Gundy and Smith may deserve to be fired. This is not Howard’s decision to make, though.  He is the player. Van Gundy is the coach. Smith is the manager.

If Martin offered to fire Van Gundy and Smith to appease Howard, then a point of no return has been established.

Simply put, Howard can't return. Suppose he signed an extension with the Magic. No coach, executive, or teammate would criticize him because doing so may get them fired, traded, or released.

Bottom line: good organizations do not operate in such a fashion.

So Magic ownership must intervene. They must empower Smith to immediately get the best possible package for Howard - even if that’s 80 or 90 cents on the dollar - because keeping him would encourage dysfunction.

Then ownership must review how the entire organization, top to bottom, has handled 'Howard-gate' and make changes. Appeasing an NBA superstar is a disease that must be cured.

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Tuesday , Mar , 13 , 2012 Hoopsvibe

Rumor: Would Monta Ellis keep Dwight Howard in Orlando?

Sources confirmed a RealGM.com report from earlier Monday that the Magic have continued to pursue Golden State's Monta Ellis as a complement to Howard. ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard reported Feb. 29 that Orlando had targeted Ellis as an ideal player to try to pry from the Warriors as a means of placating Howard.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Orlando Magic GM Otis Smith can’t be serious.   

Smith believes acquiring Monta Ellis from the Golden State Warriors would convince Dwight Howard to play out his contract and re-think signing an extension with the Magic.

So Smith is working overtime to swing a deal for Ellis. He’s talking to the Warriors, of course, and will even involve the New Orleans Hornets.

This won’t be enough, though.

Say the Magic land Ellis. All they have is a temperamental scorer who injured himself riding a moped, slammed Stephen Curry before ever meeting him, and sexually harassed (allegedly) an ex-employee of the Warriors` PR staff.

Translation: Ellis is a shot-happy combo guard with baggage. Sounds familiar, right?

Last year, Smith, in an effort to appease Howard, traded for Gilbert Arenas. The Hibachi resembled a broken down charcoal barbeque, struggling with his weight, shot, and role.

Howard will see right through any deal for Ellis. He’ll see Smith and the Magic for exactly what they are: desperate. And he’ll opt-out in July and leave as a free agent.

Smith and the Magic must accept the inevitable: Howard is gone. It’s time to cut the best deal possible.

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Sunday , Feb , 26 , 2012 Hoopsvibe

Rumor: Magic turned down Andrew Bynum for Dwight Howard?

“I can tell you for a fact the Lakers offered Andrew Bynum and the Magic do not want him,” said a Western Conference executive.”

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Thanks but no thanks.

Reports indicate the Orlando Magic turned down the Los Angeles Lakers’ offer of emerging All-Star Andrew Bynum for established franchise-face Dwight Howard.

Perhaps the Magic were fearful of Bynum’s health. Perhaps the Magic were holding out for more. Or perhaps, the Magic were hoping Howard would sign an extension.

Bottom line: Magic executive Otis Smith screwed up.

Smith must cut his losses and trade Howard for the best possible offer. And Bynum, a terrific young five, is the best the Magic can get.

The alternative is to wait until summer when Howard opts-out of his contract and likely leaves Orlando as an unrestricted free agent.

Howard prefers Dallas, L.A., and New Jersey/Brooklyn to Orlando, and he has twice asked Smith for a trade.

The Magic braintrust must face reality and accept that Howard is gone. Then they should call the Lakers back and ask if Bynum is still available.

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Sunday , Jan , 29 , 2012 Hoopsvibe

Dwight Howard: Magic lack heart and soul

“Looked like guys didn’t want to play,” he said. “I told them at halftime, if you don’t want to play, just stay in the lockerroom. It doesn’t make sense for a teams we should beat to just demolish us. “You bring everything down,” Howard said, referring to a player who isn’t playing with heart and soul.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: First he said he wouldn’t mind playing for the Boston Celtics. Then, after his Orlando Magic gave-up a 27 point lead and lost to those same Celtics, he questioned his teammates' heart.

Add it up, and this is a problem.

In case you’ve been living in a cave, Dwight Howard can opt-out of his contract at season’s end and ditch the Magic as an unrestricted free agent.

Currently the signs aren’t good that Howard inks another four or five year pact with the Magic. Face it: the signs were never good that he’d stay …

1) Howard wants to win, and the Magic have never found him a legit’ co-star. Instead, GM Otis Smith overpaid mediocre talent, killing the club’s cap space.

2) Howard wants to transition into the entertainment industry, and the small city of Orlando can’t compare to larger markets like New York and/or Los Angeles.

3) The grass is always greener on the other side, especially when the same old, same old (Orlando) isn’t working.

Bottom line: perhaps it's finally time the Magic trade Howard.

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Monday , Aug , 22 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Rumor: New CBA to help Orlando keep Howard?

“One thing that might give some comfort to Orlando fans is that one of the thoughts in the new collective bargaining agreement is to give an advantage to teams who are trying to keep their incumbent players,” Dyer says. “That would allow the Magic, for instance, to offer Dwight more money than any other team and (entice him) to stay home.”

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: They have hope.

The speculation has been that Dwight Howard will opt-out of his contract next summer and walk on the Orlando Magic, sending the South Florida franchise back to the stone age.

Some expect Howard to join the Los Angeles Lakers, even though the purple-and-gold has post Andrew Bynum. Others expect Howard to partner with a top table-setter like the New Jersey Nets’ Deron Williams.

Either way, Howard was thought to be gone. And Magic GM Otis Smith was getting ready to reserve his seat at the NBA’s annual draft lottery in the spring of 2013.

Until now.

Apparently, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement will help teams retain their own stars by increasing the amount they can pay, and essentially outbid opponents for, their own free agents

Other clauses will make it difficult for stars to join forces. Salaries will be reduced; there could be a hard cap without a luxury tax or exemptions; there may even be revenue sharing. (Call it ‘The Miami Clause’.)

Expect the post lockout NBA to resemble the NFL. There will be greater parity. There will be greater balance. There will be less have-not franchises.

All of which should help Orlando keep Howard. This, it seems, is the best they can hope for. 

--Oly Sandor.

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Tuesday , Jul , 19 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Rumor: Howard upset Magic didn’t consult him on Arenas trade?

Howard found out when the rest of us did: once the trades were completed. Turns out, Howard had a problem with that.

“I wanted to be more part of the process a little more,” Howard said in a radio interview with 790 The Zone in Atlanta. “I had to step out on the court and I wanted to make sure that the people I played with wanted to go out and play hard every night. My only issue was the fact that I didn’t really have a chance to be involved, but I think with the guys that we brought in we still have an excellent chance of winning, but we all have to be on the same page.”

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: How much input should a top employee get from management? Well, some –if you're an NBA superstar.
 
Dwight Howard, the All-World center for Orlando, is frustrated Magic GM Otis Smith didn't consult him before swapping Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat, and Rashard Lewis for Gilbert Arenas, Jason Richardson, and Hedo Turkoglu in separate trades.

Perhaps Howard has a point. Perhaps he should have received a heads-up from Smith. After his comments, he and the team are both at fault.

Smith knows better. He knows the culture of the NBA. And he knows he must appease his superstar and make the required phone call to Howard before changing the make-up of the team.

Howard knows better, too. Phone call or not, he gains nothing by commenting publicly on a situation that is done. It sounds like he isn't pleased with his new teammates. And it sounds like he wants a say in personnel matters.

Of course, looming over Orlando like an ominous rain cloud is Howard's free agency. Next July he can opt-out of his contract, hit free agency, and sign where he likes.
 
Smith's failure to provide a supporting cast may well lead to Howard leaving Disney World and partnering with a superstar in a major market. Like Deron Williams and the soon-to-be-Brooklyn Nets.
 
No doubt about it, this complicates everything.

It will take years for the Magic to recover if Howard leaves. Their shiny stadium will no longer be full and, similair to when Shaquille O`Neal left for the Lakers, the Magic will become a have-not franchise.

So the supporting cast is a touchy subject.  And Howard's comments won't help.

--Oly Sandor.

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Sunday , Jun , 19 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Rumor: Monta Ellis for Dwight Howard?

The Dwight Howard sweepstakes have begun. Golden State offered Monta Ellis, Andris Biedrins and Ekpe Udoh. Unlikely that'll get it done.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

The Golden State Warriors and Orlando Magic can deny rumors they’re considering swapping Monta Ellis for Dwight Howard. The evidence suggests otherwise, though.

New Warriors owner Joe Lacob, when he bought the club, didn’t give Ellis a ringing endorsement. While GM Larry Riley would only admit the team isn’t shopping their combo guard.

Lacob and rookie coach Mark Jackson want to change the losing culture surrounding the club. Right or wrong, fair or not, they may trade Ellis to achieve this.

Meanwhile, Howard has refused to sign an extension with the Magic. He wants to exercise a player’s option next July and become a free agent.

Howard knows Magic GM Otis Smith can’t let this occur. Not for a second. Smith, contrary to what he publicly claims, can’t risk his franchise face walking and getting nothing back.

So the clock is ticking. Like the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz with Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams, Smith has to cut a deal.  

It’s no shock the Warriors and Magic have talked trade. Here’s the real question: what happens next?

--Oly Sandor.


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Friday , Jun , 17 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Rumor: Howard won’t sign extension with Magic, hoping for trade to Lakers?

While touring Italy, Dwight Howard told reporters, again, that he would not sign a contract extension with the Orlando Magic and planned to become a free agent after next season. Lakers, that's your cue. Lakers, do you need to have it dunked on your heads? Trade for Dwight Howard.

HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Read between the lines.

Dwight Howard claims he wants to stay with the Orlando Magic. He won’t, however, ink a long-term extension with the club, preferring to become a free agent in two seasons.

Howard has an explanation for such a mixed-message: he feels a loyalty to the city, but wants to wait to see how management will improve the roster.

Sounds fair, right? Sounds reasonable, right? Well, wrong.

Howard knows what he’s doing. He knows GM Otis Smith, despite what he says, can’t let him hit free agency. He knows the Los Angeles Lakers are interested. And he knows he’s forcing the Magic’s hand.

Many think a trade between the Magic and Lakers would be imminent if it weren’t for the coming lockout. The new Collective Bargaining Agreement will alter the league’s financial landscape.

The new system could have a designated player tag, which would make it possible for the Magic to keep Howard beyond the two years left on his contract.

And the new system could include a hard cap, which would likely make it impossible for the Lakers to shed enough salary to add Howard.

With such uncertainty, the Magic and Lakers are staying put. They have to wait until the new CBA is settled. No matter what Howard says and actually wants.

--Oly Sandor.


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Word to Dwight Howard – Leave Orlando.
Wednesday , May , 04 , 2011 J.N.

Word to Dwight Howard – Leave Orlando.

Yes, you read that correctly. Right now, it is time to leave the Orlando Magic organization. I know Mickey Mouse and the Funky Bunch are hurting right now and this one will send them over the edge, but lettuce be cereal. The current roster is terrible. The team regressed after the 2009 Finals. No regrets, no remorse. General Otis Smith had plenty of time to build a quality roster. He actually did that yet somehow messed everything up.

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Saturday , Apr , 16 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Rumor: Magic to deal Howard this summer?

"I would expect a Dwight trade this summer or before the next season starts, from what I'm hearing. Rose likes his core because it's the core he has. He's not opposed to the Bulls improving it." (Ric Bucher, ESPN)

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Teams who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.

So the Orlando Magic must give serious consideration to trading Dwight Howard or they risk losing another once-in-a-generation-center via free agency.

In the late nineties, Shaquille O’Neal, the Magic’s franchise face and the game’s most dominating player, left Orlando to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers.

As a Laker, he won three straight championships. The Magic were forced to start over.

Howard, a free agent next summer, is rumored to be looking at bigger markets. He’s been linked to those same Lakers. He’s also been linked to the New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets.

The Magic were in the mix to keep their smiling superstar until they blinked this year and changed their roster mid-season with a pair of questionable trades.

Hedo Turkoglu has been decent; however, GM Otis Smith’s gamble on Gilbert Arenas has failed. The Hibachi is out of propane, struggling with shot knees, high expectations that come with a big-ticket contract, and low confidence.

Smith has failed to find Howard a co-star. So Howard, if he wants a championship, will likely find his own co-stars elsewhere.

Smith, despite his denials, will have to be open to a trade. Unless he wants to repeat the past and lose Howard for nothing as a free agent.

--Oly Sandor.

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Imagine Dwight Howard leaving the Orlando Magic
Monday , Apr , 04 , 2011 J.N.

Imagine Dwight Howard leaving the Orlando Magic

This is scary for the Orlando Magic organization. Some diehard Magic fans are already discussing this. Don’t write this off by saying, “No. He’s not going anywhere.” General manager Otis Smith has made bad moves leading the team to regress. This does not look good. The trade at the deadline was desperation, wasn’t it? I have to pull a John Lennon and try to imagine a scenario where Howard leaves. As I thought about it, the chances of this actually happening increased. Wow.

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Saturday , Apr , 02 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Rumor: Smith and Magic will say ‘No’ to offers for Howard

With Dwight Howard in the final year of his contract next season, Orlando Magic general manager Otis Smith is fully prepared to receive a host of offers for the All Star center.

"To say it hasn't happened before is crazy, so, yes, I expect it to happen," Smith said Friday. "And the answer will be the same as it always is: No."

 
HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: To quote Nancy Reagan, Otis Smith will just say ‘No’.

Of course, the Orlando Magic GM won’t be turning down drugs, but trade offers for Dwight Howard, his franchise face and superstar five-man.

Smith has no choice but to say this. And he has no choice but to justify his ‘No’ with public declarations that Howard, who can become a free agent in July of 2012, will re-sign in Orlando.

This may or may not happen.

Howard may re-sign because he’s loyal. Or he’s comfortable. Or he likes having his own team. Or the new Collective Bargaining Agreement might have a franchise tag clause, which may mean he has to stay.

The opposite is also true. Howard, for any number of reasons, may leave.

He may desire a change of scenery; he may leave for a bigger market to maximize marketing opportunities; he may leave to join a fellow superstar or two and enhance his chances at winning a championship.

The last scenario would be on Smith. He has tendered several big ticket contracts and swung many blockbuster trades, but has failed to surround Howard with a legit co-superstar.

After all, Smith signed Rashard Lewis to a mammoth pact and then swapped him for Gilbert Arenas, who has a longer contract for more money.

Both players underperformed. Ditto for Vince Carter. Smith acquired ‘VC’ from the New Jersey Nets before sending him to the Phoenix Suns for Hedo Turkoglu –another expensive, underachieving player.

So Smith has backed himself into a corner. His fate, like the Magic’s, hinges on Howard re-signing.

--Oly Sandor.


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Saturday , Feb , 19 , 2011 Oly Sandor

Rumor: Howard to join Bryant and Lakers in 2012?

During media availability on Friday of All-Star Weekend, Dwight Howard was asked about the possibility of becoming a member of the Lakers when he becomes a free agent in the summer of 2012. "As of right now, I’m in Orlando and that’s the only thing on my mind, is getting our team back to the Finals,” responded Howard.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: At some point during All-Star weekend in Los Angeles, Dwight Howard will surely say to close confidants: “man, I could get used to this.”

The ‘this’, of course, is the massive market of Los Angeles. And perhaps, these few days convinces Howard to opt-out of his contract in 2012, and sign with the Lakers as a free agent.

And ‘this’, of course, is a problem for Howard’s current team, the Orlando Magic. The massive five-man is their franchise face, resident superstar, and premier player.

If he leaves, the Magic’s championship aspirations go with him. Otis Smith and Stan Van Gundy will have a lottery team playing in an empty new arena.

So, how do the executive and coach of the Magic convince Howard to sign a long-term extension?

First, they find him a real co-star. Not Jason Richardson. Not Gilbert Arenas. Not Hedo Turkoglu. This trio combined can’t hold Kobe Bryant, even if The Black Mamba would be in his mid 30s by 2012.

Smith and Van Gundy must remind Howard big markets are no longer the be-all, end-all with respect to marketing. The internet means players can be global superstars in Orlando, as well as Los Angeles.

Finally, they should appeal to his loyalty. The Magic are, and will continue to be Howard’s team, while the Lakers belong to Bryant, a five-time champion.

Smith and Van Gundy would be wise to continue communicating with Howard. Or come 2012, he’ll land in Los Angeles. Except this time it won’t be for a weekend.

--Oly Sandor.
 
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Saturday , Sep , 11 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Stan Van Gundy on Pat Riley`s complaining: ‘I was kind of amused by it’

``I thought it was pretty typical. I was kind of amused by it, especially reading down through the interview,’’ Van Gundy said. ``He goes into Charles Barkley, me and Otis and then says he doesn’t worry about what people say. Wait, you called the press conference, you went off and everybody and you don’t care what people say? Clearly, he cares a great deal about what people say. I was laughing when I saw that.’’

Van Gundy wasn’t laughing when he read that Riley ripped him and Smith for questioning why James and Bosh would rather team together with Dwyane Wade in Miami rather than trying to win a championship on their own. Riley said the comment was ``an absolutely stupid remark,’’ but several former great players such as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Barkley reaffirmed that they would have never jumped ship on their teams simply as a way to chase a championship.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: It’s safe to say the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic don’t like each other. Not one bit.

However, Pat Riley, the Heat’s lead executive, and Stan Van Gundy, the Magic’s coach, don’t just dislike each other –they hate each other.

Passionately.

Van Gundy was once Riley’s lead assistant on Miami’s bench. Back then, these two trusted each other. These two liked each other. And these two enjoyed a student-mentor relationship. 

When Riley retired from coaching, it was Van Gundy he picked as his successor. Of course, The Oil Slick couldn’t stay away from the spotlight, so he fired his former protégé one season after trading for Shaquille O’Neal.

Riley claimed the move was about helping the Heat win an NBA Title –which they did. Van Gundy claimed Riley put a knife in his back.

Whoever’s version you believe, their split was personal.

For a few years, Van Gundy held the edge over Riley because the Magic were Eastern Conference powers, advancing to the Finals in 2009.

The Three Kings changed the balance of power. Riley’s Heat now has momentum. And this, perhaps, prompted Magic GM Otis Smith and Van Gundy to publicly slag Chris Bosh, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Riley.

So Riley responded. And Van Gundy, who never met a microphone he didn’t like, fired back.

The players will decide the battle of Florida on-court. Expect Riley and Van Gundy’s grudge match to extend well beyond 2011.

--Oly Sandor.


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