7:43pm: According to Mike Prada of SBNation (Twitter link), Van Gundy confirmed to TNT's David Aldridge that he's known all season that Howard wanted him fired.
5:51pm: CBSSports.com's Ken Berger writes that there's no chance Van Gundy will be back as head coach of the Magic next season.
3:13pm: Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski writes that Howard's attempts to get Van Gundy fired are just the latest development in a power struggle between the coach and star center.
11:34am: A source close to Van Gundy tells Wojnarowski that Howard has asked the Magic to fire Van Gundy multiple times since last summer (Twitter link).
11:17am: Just moments after Van Gundy spoke to reporters in Orlando, Howard talked to the same group, including Howard Beck of the New York Times (Twitter link), and denied that he'd asked management to fire the coach.
11:06am: Van Gundy told reporters, including Josh Robbins (Twitter link), that Howard has indeed asked Magic management to fire Van Gundy. This is a pretty surprising development — not just that Howard actually made the request, but that Van Gundy would publicly acknowledge it.
9:01am: During the height of the pre-deadline Dwight Howard drama, a report surfaced that suggested Howard had been offered the opportunity to determine the fates of GM Otis Smith and coach Stan Van Gundy if he re-signed. The Magic quickly released a statement denying it, but with Howard locked into his contract for another year, the rumors persist.
David Pingalore of WKMG Local 6 in Orlando reported this week that Howard has conveyed to Magic ownership that he'd like a coaching change, and won't consider a contract extension unless the team fires Van Gundy this offseason. Magic owner Rich DeVos told Pingalore that Howard won't be given that type of decision-making power, though the team will seek his input on any major decisions.
"He can't make those decisions and choices," DeVos said. "We will make those, but we will let him know what we are making and we want his opinion on what fits and doesn't fit."
Orlando CEO Alex Martins echoed that sentiment to Joshua Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel, noting that the futures of Van Gundy and Smith, who are both under contract through 2012/13, won't be discussed until after the season. The Magic didn't make any specific promises to Howard when he waived his early termination option, according to Martins.
SI.com's Chris Mannix tweets that the Magic will do "whatever it takes" to placate Howard over the next year. If that means firing Van Gundy, they'll do it, says Mannix. In a separate tweet, Mannix adds that several rival executives believe the Magic coach would be highly coveted if he were to find himself out of work in Orlando.
I think Mannix is right that the Magic will give strong consideration to Howard's opinion. If Orlando makes a deep playoff run, it would be hard to justify firing Van Gundy, but if D12 pushes for it, I think it'll happen. What we don't know yet is whether or not that's what Dwight wants — hopefully he won't be quite as indecisive on this topic as he was on his contract situation.