The next time the Atlanta Hawks face the division rival Orlando Magic, Stan Van Gundy won't be at the other end of the sideline, and Otis Smith won't be observing from a suite in the upper deck of the arenas.
Orlando fired both Van Gundy and Smith on Monday, leaving the organization to find new leadership in the final year of Dwight Howard's contract. It became public during this past season that the relationship between Howard and Van Gundy had reached the breaking point, or at least to where Howard asked management for the firing of his coach.
BREAKING NEWS: on.nba.com/K4WgVf - Stan Van Gundy Relieved of Duties; Otis Smith and Magic Mutually Agree To Part Ways— Orlando Magic (@Orlando_Magic) May 21, 2012
The upcoming season, just as last season appeared to be, is the most important one in franchise history, in terms of the urgency to keep Howard. If the Magic are unable to secure him, the Magic is likely to make more cosmetic changes.
Orlando Magic Chief Executive Officer Alex Martins made the announcement.
"On behalf of the DeVos Family, we sincerely appreciate and thank Otis and Stan for all that they have done on and off the floor for the Orlando Magic," said Martins. "These are the days you dread in this business, but we feel it's time for new leadership and new voices.
"They both brought die-hard dedication and an unmatched work ethic on a daily basis," added Martins. "Their success is well documented, as the Orlando Magic has had the fourth best record in the NBA over the last five years, and entering the playoffs this year the third most playoff wins over that period of time. The disappointment of getting eliminated in the first round of the playoffs these past two seasons played a primary role in our decision, as we feel our momentum towards winning a championship has paused. We wish Otis and Stan all the best and we look forward to taking the next step towards winning that championship."