- Associated Press - Monday, May 21, 2012

ORLANDO, FLA. (AP) - For months the Orlando Magic have been trudging through the aftermath of a preseason trade request by Dwight Howard that sapped the life out of the franchise as internal team issues quickly affected the product on the floor.

Now after easily one of the most tumultuous seasons in their history, they made the first in what promises to be a huge offseason shake-up

The Magic fired coach Stan Van Gundy on Monday and agreed to part ways with general manager Otis Smith, severing ties with two of the architects of one of the most successful runs in franchise history.

Smith and Van Gundy’s relationship with Howard was the centerpiece of drama the team faced all season and following their second straight first-round playoff exit, CEO Alex Martins said the shift was warranted.


“It’s time for a new leadership and a new approach,” Martins said at a news conference to discuss the moves. “We simply came to the decision that we were not on the right track,”

Martins wouldn’t go into many specifics about what he is looking for in replacements, saying only that he and ownership want to fill the general manager post by June’s NBA draft.

He said he would sit down with ownership on Tuesday to begin ironing out the details of both searches.

Phone and text messages left with Van Gundy and Smith by The Associated Press were not immediately returned.

Orlando went 37-29 in the regular season but was eliminated in five games by Indiana after a rash of late-season injuries that included back surgery for Howard. Orlando went 5-12 without him.

Martins said those consecutive first-round playoff exits were “simply not good enough.”

In early April, Van Gundy claimed top-ranking team officials had told him that Howard had asked management to fire Van Gundy as a condition of the center signing a long-term contract beyond 2013. Howard denied it.

Martins addressed that dispute directly, saying “At no time during that time did Dwight ask me to have Stan fired.”

With a relationship with Smith dating back to the Magic’s inaugural season when Smith was a player and a five-year relationship with Van Gundy, Martins also called Monday “the most difficult day of my career.”

Both Smith and Van Gundy are under contract through next season and both of their contracts will be honored. The current assistant coaching staff has also been offered the opportunity to stay on for now.

Van Gundy coached the Magic for five seasons. He finished with a 259-135 record, going 31-28 in the playoffs.

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