(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Though the Orlando Magic have not decided if they will fire coach Stan Van Gundy, Marc Stein of ESPN.com reports that if they do, former Seattle SuperSonics and Portland Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan will likely "emerge as a prime candidate" to replace him. That's the word on "the coaching grapevine," anyway. Portland dismissed McMillan on March 15th of this year after it tumbled to 20-23 under his watch. Stein says rumors have also linked McMillan to the Charlotte Bobcats should they decide to part ways with Paul Silas.
However, there's no guarantee Orlando will fire Van Gundy. "One source cautions that the Magic are known contrarians and thus apt to keep Van Gundy no matter how many people are calling for his head," according to Stein. Now in his fifth season as the Magic's head coach, Van Gundy owns the highest regular-season (.670) and playoff (.566) winning percentages in franchise history. But Orlando's lackluster play this season, which includes two performances of 59 points or fewer and five losses of 20 points or more, coupled with the reportedly lukewarm relationship between Van Gundy and superstar center Dwight Howard, has some folks wondering if his job is secure.
When asked to respond to a report that the Magic would let Howard decide the fate of Van Gundy and Otis Smith, the team's President of Basketball Operations, Van Gundy responded, "I really don't give a damn about being fired. That doesn't concern me in the least. If they want to fire me to please somebody, fire me." The Magic released a statement refuting that report. "The only person(s) who have the final say on coaches and management is the Orlando Magic ownership," it read.
In 12 seasons coaching at the NBA level, McMillan's career record stands at 478-452 (.514), with a playoff record of 14-20 (.412). McMillan's teams have advanced past the first round of the playoffs once in five tries.
The Trail Blazers posted a 21-61 record in McMillan's first season at the helm, but reached .500 just two years later. In the 2008/09 season, McMillan guided Portland to a 54-28 record and a second-place finish in the Northwest Division.