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Magic coach says Howard has asked that he be fired
“I know he has,” Van Gundy told reporters after the team’s morning shootaround ahead of Thursday night’s matchup with the New York Knicks. “That’s just the way it is. Again, I’ve been dealing with that all year. It’s not anything real bothersome. You go out and do your job.”
Sounds simple _ something that’s become rare in Orlando.
The stay-or-go drama surrounding Howard has haunted the Magic all season. After securing Howard’s services for at least another season at the trade deadline last month, Thursday brought the latest wrinkle to the saga.
“Whatever happens at the end of the season is not under my control,” Howard told reporters. “I am a player for the Magic. I am not the GM. I am not (owner) Rich DeVos I am not (Magic CEO) Alex Martins. So that’s not my job. So you guys should stop … every other week … trying to find something, because there’s nothing.
“I haven’t said anything to anybody about anything. Our main concern is winning. So all the other stuff should stop.”
Asked how he was sure of a report that has been circulated and repeatedly denied by Howard and other team officials throughout the season, the 52-year-old Van Gundy said he had been told by “people right in our management, right from the top.”
Van Gundy’s normal pregame media availability was canceled Thursday night.
Howard was in the locker room before the game, but didn’t address the issue any further.
Magic reserve guard Ish Smith said he didn’t hear about the morning’s comments by Van Gundy until he arrived in the locker room to get dressed for the game. He said he doesn’t think any internal issues have played into the Magic’s recent losses.
“My mom loves soap operas, so for me to be a part of one is pretty special,” Smith joked. “From the outside I think it looks like (a soap opera), but when you’re on the inside I think it’s no effect on us. I think defensively the last three or four games has been what’s been hurting us. I don’t think anything off the court is causing us to lose these games.”
The whole episode was a definite change in approach by Van Gundy, who is usually mum when it comes to issues dealing with his job status.
The day before the trade deadline last month, Van Gundy himself sidestepped questions about reports that Howard had asked management to jettison both himself and general manager Otis Smith as a condition for him signing a long-term contract extension.
“If they want to fire me to please somebody, fire me,” Van Gundy said at the time.
By Tammy Bruce
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