Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE
Otis Smith, the Orlando Magic's President of Basketball Operations, offered public support for embattled coach Stan Van Gundy in an interview with ESPN on Saturday night, but would not commit to having Van Gundy as the team's coach for the duration of his contract, which runs through the 2012/13 season. "Don't have the answer for that," Smith told sideline reporter Lisa Salters during his team's 88-82 win against the Philadelphia 76ers. "I don't have to answer to who's going to be on our roster, either.
Smith also said he did not know superstar center Dwight Howard asked the Magic to fire Van Gundy. "He never asked me; I didn't have that knowledge," Smith said.
Van Gundy told the media Thursday he heard "straight from the top" of Orlando's organization that Howard had asked for his job before the season began. Smith told ESPN that Van Gundy was in the wrong for discussing that topic publicly, and said Howard, too, was wrong if he indeed did ask for the team to fire Van Gundy. Vander Weide resigned shortly before the season began.
A report from Bright House Sports Network earlier Saturday indicated Howard told Bob Vander Weide, then the Magic's CEO, he wanted the team to hire Brian Shaw or Michael Malone to replace Van Gundy before the season began.
Smith and Van Gundy signed contract extensions with the Magic in the summer of 2010, keeping them on Orlando's payroll through the 2012/13 season.