michael-garcia - March 14, 2012
In an effort to keep soon-to-be free agent superstar Dwight Howard in Orlando, the team president has promised to trade for another star before the deadline. But wait there's more! The team is apparently considering letting Dwight also decide the futures of head coach Stan Van Gundy and GM Otis Smith if Howard signs a contract extension.
You read that right. The team might let a player fire (or retain) the coach and GM. Of course, star players have had influence for many years when it comes to this kind of thing, but for a team to put it out there like this sets a terrible precedent.
ESPN is reporting that Magic team president Alex Martins is putting these cards on the table, and if it turns out to be true, then he can probably expect a call from commissioner David Stern. The last thing Stern wants is the perception that players have total control over what goes on with their teams.
Stan Van Gundy has done a fine job while in Orlando. He hasn't led them to any championships yet, but he's also not the reason they haven't won any. There haven't been reports that Dwight and Stan have had any real problems working together, so if the report is true, then putting that pressure on Dwight probably wouldn't be a good thing anyway.
The bigger issue that this could cause is for other star players to start asking to have this kind of power added to their deals.
Superstars have long had influence on who coaches. Magic Johnson reportedly had Paul Westhead ran out of Los Angeles back in the early 80s. Even though the facts have that have been disputed, Johnson speaking publicly about not being happy with the coach definitely sped up the process of him getting fired.
Teams will do almost anything to keep marquee players happy these days, but to let one decide if a coach and GM should keep their jobs is way out of line. Tell them they can have a say in the matter, but don't give them the outright power. I mean, not to get all cliche, but then the inmates truly would be running the asylum.
Article by Eric Gray