The Magic take on the Pacers this evening in what could potentially be Stan Van Gundy's final game as the team's head coach. HoopsWorld's Steve Kyler predicts Van Gundy will lose his job shortly after the team finishes its season. This isn't necessarily a bad thing for Van Gundy, writes Kyler, as the Magic and SVG may both benefit from parting ways this offseason.
Van Gundy's looming dismissal has little to do with his coaching ability but rather represents the beleaguered franchise's lone chance to win favor with Dwight Howard as he enters the final year of his contract with the team. Howard's disdain toward Van Gundy has been made clear over the course of the season, leaving the Magic front office with little choice but to appease its superstar in hopes of improving the team's chances of re-signing him in 2013. Simply put, a very good coach is replaceable in the NBA but a superstar talent like Howard is not.
Since becoming head coach in 2007, Van Gundy has won 259 regular season games with the Magic, a number that will make him an attractive candidate to teams looking for a new head coach. Van Gundy has also enjoyed success in the postseason as he's taken the Magic to the Eastern Conference Finals twice during his tenure in Orlando along with an appearance in the NBA Finals against the Lakers in 2009. While it's unlikely that Van Gundy would be interested in turning around the Bobcats' fortunes, he may be a good fit for the Trail Blazers.
Replacing Van Gundy won't be an easy task for the Magic, but there are a few viable options for Orlando to consider this offseason. If the team is looking for an experienced head coach with a track record of success, then they should consider hiring Nate McMillan, writes Kyler. Patrick Ewing, who is a candidate for the Bobcats' opening, would be better off staying in Orlando if the team looks to stay in-house and seamlessly transition from the Van Gundy regime.