Orlando Magic let go of coach Stan Van Gundy, GM Otis Smith

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And the “we will do anything to keep Dwight Howard happy” parade continues.

The Orlando Magic have announced that they are parting ways with coach Stan Van Gundy as well as GM Otis Smith. Follow that link if you want to read the generic “he was great for us” quotes from the owner that just fired him.

In five years with the Magic Van Gundy had a 259-135 (.657) record and took the team to the NBA finals. He is the most successful coach in Magic history.

The move is not really a surprise, we know from last season that center Howard had asked for a change — Van Gundy himself said he was told that by management, while Howard has denied it nobody believed him. In the NBA, the power struggle between the truly elite player and the coach always goes to the player — they are harder to come by and you have to do everything to keep them. Which is what the Magic are trying to do, show Howard they are willing to go a new direction and retool for him.

Is this move enough to keep Howard so he doesn’t leave them after this season? I doubt it. He’ll want to see people come in who he thinks can build a winner in Orlando… like Van Gundy did. But lets not belabor that point.

The question is, what coach can the Magic get that is better? Phil Jackson is not walking through that door.

But maybe his former lead assistant Brian Shaw is. Shaw is currently a big part of Frank Vogel’s staff in Indiana and is reportedly one of the key guys Howard said he wanted the Magic go bring in. Don’t be shocked if bigger names like Nate McMillan also end up in the mix pretty quickly.

As for Van Gundy, he will land on his feet as he is now maybe the hottest free agent coach out there that doesn’t have 11 rings (maybe Mike D’Antoni would quibble). To be fair, like Howard lot of players are not fond of Van Gundy, who is seen as old-school and negative. But he wins and his teams defend. A whole lot of teams could use that.

Whoever the new GM turns out to be will have a difficult task ahead. You have to improve this team which is already over the salary cap and tax threshold, severely limiting your options, and point guard Jameer Nelson is testing the free agent market. The Magic are not flush with great trade pieces — nobody wants Hedo Turkoglu and you can’t get that much for solid players like J.J. Redick. There is no simple quick fix here, in an effort to put the team over the hump after their finals run Smith backed the team into a difficult financial corner.

But Howard got what he wanted. And we have more turmoil in Orlando.

J.R. Smith replacing Dwyane Wade as Cavaliers’ starting shooting guard

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The Cavaliers are 2-1, but their starting lineups have been outscored by 19 points in 32 minutes. Dwyane Wade has been so bad as the starting shooting guard, his struggles have overshadowed J.R. Smith‘s miserable play as the backup.

But at least Wade volunteered a solution to this predictable problem.

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

Dwyane Wade is headed for the Cavaliers’ bench at his own request and J.R. Smith is returning to the starting lineup.

Wade, 35, a 12-time All-Star who struggled in his first three games with Cleveland, asked coach Tyronn Lue to make the change, Lue said. But this wasn’t exactly Wade’s idea, either.

Lue told him when he signed with the Cavs Sept. 27 that the second unit may be the best fit for him.

“I just decided, earlier than later, just to get to the unit where I’d be more comfortable in and can probably better with this team in that lineup,” Wade said. “Why wait? Three games in, why wait? Wanted to get in there with those guys.”

Cleveland’s starting lineup needs more shooting and defense around LeBron James – especially with Derrick Rose starting over an injured Isaiah Thomas (though Rose is out a couple games with his own ankle injury). Smith provides that.

Bench-heavy units need more playmaking. Wade provides that.

This was a tricky situation given Wade’s status as a future Hall of Famer and friendship with LeBron. Whether Wade simply suggested the change or Lue is trying to give Wade public credit after coaxing it behind the scenes, the result is the same.

The Cavs can now use their most logical rotation, and they should be better for it.

Suns GM Ryan McDonough: Eric Bledsoe hair-salon claim about tweet was unbelievable

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Eric Bledsoe reportedly requested a trade from the Suns before the season then tweeted yesterday:

Clear message?

Apparently not.

After sending home Bledsoe today, Suns general manager Ryan McDonough explained his rationale:

The hair salon! What a wonderful excuse.

Is it true? I’m not going to call Bledsoe a liar. It might be.

It’s also probably true that Bledsoe isn’t long for Phoenix.

Report: Suns send Eric Bledsoe home, expect to trade him

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In a shocking twist, the Suns firing Earl Watson did not end the dysfunction in Phoenix.

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7:

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Bledsoe:

That is a first-rate tweet by Bledsoe. It’s great that he’s having fun with the wild situation, because the rest of us sure are amused peering in.

This was always going to be a long season in Phoenix, but things got out of hand in a hurry. The 0-3 Suns have been outscored by 92 – the worst three-game start in NBA history by 16 points. Now, comes the fallout.

At 27, Bledsoe was getting to be a little too old for a rebuild centered on Devin Booker, Josh Jackson, Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender and T.J. Warren. The Suns could have dealt Bledsoe in the offseason. Now, they’re negotiating from a position of weakness.

Bledsoe is a good starting point guard when healthy. He’s earning a reasonable $14.5 million this season and due $15 million in the final year of his contract next season. There should be suitors, and Phoenix can gain long-term assets while stepping up its tank.

But this sure seems like a crisis-control move more than anything else.

Willy Hernangomez ‘mad’ about falling from Knicks rotation

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Knicks president Steve Mills started his second tenure talking about rebuilding and listed Willy Hernangomez as a core piece.

But Hernangomez, coming off an All-Rookie first-team season, barely played in New York’s season-opening loss to the Thunder– drawing scrutiny.

Then, he didn’t play at all in a loss to the Pistons – eliciting a strong reaction from Hernangomez himself.

Hernangomez, via Fred Kerber of the New York Post:

“The same. I’m still mad,” Hernangomez said. “I cannot help the team win if I’m sitting on the bench. Two games in a row. It’s tough. I have to wait my moment. I cannot say nothing more.”

The Knicks are moving in different directions. Management is talking about building for the future. Coach Jeff Hornacek, who was hired by previous president Phil Jackson, is trying to win now.

There’s a fine line between developing Hernangomez through playing time and making him earn his minutes. Enes Kanter and Kyle O'Quinn might be better right now.

But being marginally better this season won’t get the Knicks anywhere meaningful except lower in the lottery. On the other hand, even on rebuilding teams, winning is most important to a coach’s job security. Earl Watson implemented the Suns’ tanking scheme, and look where that got him.

Hornacek is backed into a corner, and now one of the team’s most important young players is publicly expressing his displeasure. It’s the latest troubling sign in a locker room already suspicious of Hornacek.