During a recent pregame shoot around, Van Gundy spoke to the media about the speculation that Howard wanted him out. Like a scene from the WWE, the interview was interrupted by Howard who tried to smooth the tension over by putting his arm around his coach. That led to this awkward moment.
As the video clearly shows something isn’t right between Van Gundy and Howard in Orlando. With Dwight’s recent committal to the Magic for next season the path as to how this will play out has already been set. Stan Van Gundy will be dismissed as Orlando’s coach sometime prior to next season. Could he land in L.A.?
Under current head coach Mike Brown, the Lakers are 35-20, just 5.5 games behind the first place Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference standings. No one can deny Brown’s ability to get a team through the regular season and into the playoffs. On multiple occasions with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Brown’s teams had the best record going in to the playoffs. But if the playoffs are where you make your money then Mike Brown is almost broke. Outside of the 2007 postseason that saw LeBron James carry an overachieving Cavs roster to the Finals where they were swept, Brown’s teams have not been able to get over the hump despite the fact they were the best in the league.
With history as our guide, look for the Lakers to exit early in the 2012 playoffs; first round scare and Western Conference Semi’s exit. This would be unacceptable in L.A.
An early exit coupled with the fact that Brown recently benched Kobe Bryant in the 4th quarter of a close game and the writing will be on the wall; Brown will not be around for another season.
Now when you start looking at championship caliber coaches who could replace Brown, Stan Van Gundy has got to be at the top of the list. No, he doesn’t have the swagger of a Phil Jackson or Pat Riley, two former championship coaches for Los Angeles. Nor does he have a championship pedigree; one Finals appearance with a loss, just like Brown. But he is an excellent X’s and O’s guy; exactly what the Lakers need given their current roster.
If Van Gundy is indeed fired in Orlando look for the coaching domino effect to take place. Van Gundy’s availability would make Lakers General Manager, Mitch Kupchak’s, possible decision to remove Mike Brown after one season all the more easier.
If the Lakers want rings, then they’re going to need a coach who can get them there and Mike Brown is not the answer; Stan Van Gundy is.
Follow Aaron on Twitter @Da_Bear_Truth