Stan Van Gundy now the Warriors’ top coaching target?

Stan Van GundyStan Van Gundy is at the top of the Golden State Warriors’ list for a new head coach, according to a report.

Golden State fired Mark Jackson after the team was eliminated from the playoffs by the Clippers with the hopes that they could find someone they felt was better. They were pursuing Steve Kerr, but ESPN’s Marc Stein and Ian Begley say the Warriors believe Kerr will end up agreeing to a deal with the Knicks. Kerr has been mentioned in association with the Knicks job for weeks, and he even admitted he has discussed the position with team president Phil Jackson.

Feeling that Kerr may not be a possibility for them, the Warriors are looking elsewhere, and Stein and Begley say Van Gundy is as close to a top target as they have at this point.

I think Van Gundy would be a great hire for Golden State. The man had a bad falling out in Orlando, but he was in a difficult spot because his star player — Dwight Howard — had two feet out the door the last few years with the team. That made it extremely difficult for Van Gundy to have authority with the team. He was also rendered powerless because the organization was so desperate to keep Howard, they did anything to appease the center.

Before essentially becoming a lame duck in Orlando, Van Gundy got the Magic to the playoffs five years in a row. He took them to the NBA Finals once and reached the conference finals the following year. I’m a fan of his defensive system and think he is a creative coach who matches his offense to fit his personnel. I especially like his honesty as a coach, too. He would be a great hire for the Dubs and they should probably just focus on him instead of Kerr.

Stan Van Gundy: John Wall isn’t good enough for Wizards to build around

One of the reasons the Washington Wizards are off to such a poor start again this season has been the absence of John Wall. A team isn’t going to win many games without its best player, and Washington has won only four of its 29 with Wall having been sidelined with a knee injury for the entire season. To say that the Wizards are missing the former Kentucky star would be an epic understatement.

However, Stan Van Gundy does not feel that Wall is the answer to the Wizards’s problems — this season or in the future.

“You know, I don’t see it, to be honest,” Van Gundy told ESPN 980’s The Sports Reporters last week, via D.C. Sports Bog. “I’d love to tell you you’re two years away; I really don’t [see it]. That roster doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. I know they’ll be better when John Wall comes back. He’s certainly got talent, but I don’t know that even John Wall is a great player to build your franchise around. I don’t know who you’re building around, so it’s tough to even think about what the construction of your team is. That’s just a bad basketball team.”

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Stan Van Gundy: Dwight Howard hasn’t looked like himself

Stan Van Gundy still communicates with the player who was most responsible for him being successful with the Orlando Magic, and the same guy who was chiefly responsible for him being fired. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Van Gundy said he still exchanges friendly text messages with Dwight Howard.

In the interview, Van Gundy discussed Howard’s status with the Los Angeles Lakers and shared two noteworthy opinions. The former Magic coach says Howard, who is coming off back surgery, does not look like the same player. He also says Howard is adjusting to being a secondary offensive option on the Lakers.

“I don’t think he looks quite as explosive or as quick as he has in the past,” Van Gundy told the Times’ Ben Bolch. “Now, he’s still above almost everyone in the league at that size athletically, but he has not totally looked like himself to me.”

Howard stopped playing for the Magic in April because of his back injury, and he underwent surgery for it later in the month. It wasn’t certain whether he would even be ready to play when the season began, but Howard was out there. Howard even admitted recently that he’s not at full strength, and said doctors told him it would take nine months to regain strength in his legs.

Back injury aside, Van Gundy says Howard has a big mental adjustment he’s making.

“It’s a big adjustment for him going from being the guy to not only being the No. 2 guy but really a No. 2 guy that really doesn’t get the ball very much at all,” Van Gundy said. “It’s a different deal and an adjustment he has to make. Those kind of things take time.”

Van Gundy thinks Howard can and will make the adjustment, but he just pointed out that it takes time. Andrew Bynum also made similar comments recently when analyzing the Lakers. He said Howard would have to make the same adjustment.

Van Gundy doesn’t seem to have any hard feelings toward Howard.

“Dwight and my time in Orlando, I thought the relationship was good, worked well, produced results and that’s what player-coach relationships in this league should be about, are the results that they get and the results here were good, mainly because Dwight’s as good as he is. He’s a great, great player and I have a great appreciation for what he did for our teams and for me as a coach.”

That’s a nice way to reflect on things, especially considering Howard is the big reason he lost his job in Orlando. But like he says, Howard is also the biggest reason he had success there.

Photo credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

Stan Van Gundy accuses David Stern of preventing him from working at ESPN

For a while it appeared as though Stan Van Gundy was going to join ESPN this upcoming season and help an NBA Countdown crew that was the target of a ton of criticism last year. According to The Big Lead, that is no longer the plan as David Stern has allegedly stepped in and blocked Van Gundy from joining the World Wide Leader.

On Wednesday, TBL called ESPN and a spokesman told the website that the network is going in a different direction after not being able to agree on what Van Gundy’s role would be. In an interview with Dan LeBatard on The Ticket in Miami Wednesday afternoon, Van Gundy said that is a total lie.

“No one at ESPN will tell us what happened,” Van Gundy explained. “Certainly the NBA office isn’t going to tell us what happened. One of the quotes from ESPN in there – we had discussions, but couldn’t agree on a role … as usual, that’s a bunch of BS from ESPN. We actually did agree on a role, but then they came back and pulled that. That’s when we knew something was up.

“What I find fascinating … you have to give David Stern and the NBA a lot of credit … ESPN pays the league, and then the league tells them what to do. It’s more ESPN’s problem. You gotta have no balls whatsoever to pay someone hundreds of millions of dollars and let them run your business.”

Van Gundy said ESPN claiming they disagreed on his role is a “flat out lie” and that it was simply a case of them making an offer and then pulling it back. As we have seen when he goes on rants like this one and this one, Stan is one of the most outspoken figures in basketball. Stern has ESPN in his back pocket, and it’s probably that outspokenness that he is afraid of.

Stan Van Gundy blasts Magic CEO Alex Martins: He has no sports knowledge

There will be no talk about how the NBA is just a business and how there are no hard feelings now that Stan Van Gundy and the Magic have officially ended their relationship. There are hard feelings. It was no secret that Van Gundy and Dwight Howard did not get along, and Stan feels as though the Magic did a poor job of handling the situation. In particular, he doesn’t think very highly of Magic CEO Alex Martins.

“It’s a typical lack of understanding from someone who has no sports knowledge, who has never coached or played, who has never been in a locker room…it’s a naiveté,” Van Gundy said Monday morning on AM 740 according to the Orlando Sentinel.

“I’ll stand on the relationships with players based on the results we got. I think Alex’s comments are based on the fact that Dwight and maybe others didn’t like me…and thinking somehow that’s important.”

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Stan Van Gundy slams Chris Broussard for criticizing Erik Spoelstra

Stan Van Gundy is a good basketball coach, and he’s as honest as it gets when it comes to coaches dealing with the media. Seriously, this guy sold Dwight Howard out in one of the most awkward videos of all time. He tells it like it is and doesn’t hold back.

When asked about the comments of ESPN’s Chris Broussard, who said last week that the Heat is not well coached and that Erik Spoelstra doesn’t have credibility, Van Gundy responded harshly.

“My first thought is that Chris Broussard has no knowledge of coaching and wouldn’t know it if he saw it,” the former Magic coach said on 790 The Ticket in Miami. “I’d like to get some specifics from Chris of what he thinks coaching is, and what’s not happening.

“My second thought is this: When [Broussard] says they need somebody of the ilk of Phil Jackson, Pat Riley and Gregg Popovich, two thoughts on that — there aren’t many guys of that ilk period … and second of all, if that’s the ilk they need, maybe they’re not any damn good anyway. And my third thing is in the game today there aren’t many guys as good as Erik Spoelstra. And I would rather cite a couple of things rather than just an opinion.

“[The Heat] is the best defensive team that I have ever seen that doesn’t have size. I’ve never seen an elite defensive team in the NBA, until this Miami team, that doesn’t have size. To me, there has to be a helluva lot of coaching in there. Obviously they have great quickness, but if you look at all the other best defensive teams in the league, they all have great size and Miami doesn’t. And yet they defend very well, and they do it because Erik has gotten the guys to buy into what they do.”

Van Gundy proceeded to knock the perception that Doc Rivers was overachieving with the Celtics by pointing out he has three first-ballot Hall of Famers in his lineup. He also cited Chris Bosh’s injury as the reason the Heat have fallen behind in their past two series, and he thinks that’s been overlooked by the media.

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Jeff Van Gundy says it’s ‘absurd’ that the Magic pretend Dwight Howard wasn’t the reason Stan Van Gundy was fired

There are two theories regarding the firing of Stan Van Gundy: the Magic are looking to start fresh, or they know their only chance of keeping Dwight Howard was to fire their head coach. With rumors floating around that the Magic are looking to deal Howard around draft time, the former is a definite possibility. However, Jeff Van Gundy fully believes Howard drove his brother out of Orlando and that it’s insulting for the Magic to pretend otherwise.

“To hide behind the fact or try to make everyone believe that Dwight Howard didn’t have a part in this is absurd,” Jeff Van Gundy said during an interview with 98.7 ESPN in New York. “Say listen we fired this guy because we know this our best chance to keep Dwight Howard. Dwight Howard and I decided to fire him. To do anything else is playing a game of semantics. It really is.

“Okay listen (CEO Alex Martins) all you have done in your 25 years in the business is release press releases and run the business side. You don’t know if a ball is blown up or stuffed. You don’t know if the pick and roll coverage on the side is right or wrong. Just say that I have no knowledge about basketball. He doesn’t know one thing about basketball so please hold off your comments on my brothers expertise since you know nothing about basketball.”

The situation in Orlando has been a public relations nightmare all season long, and we all knew this is the way it was going to end. Perhaps the Magic are trying to rebuild and firing their head coach and general manager and trading their star player is the best way to go about it. That being said, we know Dwight’s unhappiness spelled the end for Van Gundy. To pretend Howard had nothing to do with it is indeed absurd.

Photo credit: Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE