Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE
The Orlando Magic made two key changes Monday, "mutually parting ways" with Otis Smith, the team's architect and President of Basketball Operations, as well as "relieving" coach Stan Van Gundy "of his duties" as the club looks toward the future. Both men had one year left on their contracts, and the team will endeavor to replace at least Smith before the NBA Draft on June 28th.
It's unclear exactly what bearing this news has on Dwight Howard's future with the team. The superstar center won't become a free agent until July 1st, 2013, as he agreed to delay his free agency by one season, but Magic CEO Alex Martins indicated "necessary decisions will be made" with regard to Howard if he won't agree to sign a contract extension with the club.
According to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, trading Howard will be the first task for the Magic's next general manager, whenever he's brought aboard. "It is the scorched-earth inevitability when a superstar of Howard's caliber wants out," Berger writes. "There's nothing left when he goes."
Berger elaborates that "Howard's leaving anyway, so from here this [Monday's dismissals] looks like a complete revamping from top to bottom." As such, Berger says, including Howard in the team's search for a general manager and coach makes sense only in theory, and not in practice.