This offseason could be every bit as tumultuous.
Here is a quick look at the issues the Magic will face in the days, weeks and months ahead:
Van Gundy has compiled a 259-135 regular-season record and a 31-28 postseason record as the Magic’s head coach, but it’s widely assumed that he has coached his last game for the franchise.
This season brought the news that superstar Dwight Howard wanted Van Gundy to be fired, followed by Van Gundy’s public confirmation. It’s difficult to see them coexisting together for another season, despite Howard’s claim he has talked often with Van Gundy during the postseason.
Magic CEO Alex Martins, who spearheaded the effort to retain Howard for 2012-13, has said all basketball-operations employees, including Van Gundy, will be evaluated during the offseason.
Van Gundy is under contract for 2012-13, and he has said he wants to return as the Magic coach. But, at the same time, he has acknowledged that the past season was the most difficult of his coaching career. Does he really want to go through another year of a possible Dwightmare?
A segment of the organization believes the Magic front office will part ways with Van Gundy after five seasons.
2. Dwight Howard’s future
By waiving his early-termination option on March 15, Howard now is under contract with the Magic for the 2012-13 season. Still, it’s very possible that he will ask for a trade this offseason. He was furious that Magic officials, especially Martins, did not publicly defend him when Van Gundy, in response to a direct question, said Howard wanted him fired.
Howard’s agent has maintained that Howard’s herniated disk got worse in the days leading up to Howard’s surgery. And Howard himself has said he simply could not play through the injury. Still, the entire episode has created additional tension between Howard, his teammates and the franchise.
Magic Owner Rich DeVos has said the team wants to keep Howard long-term. You can understand why: Howard is the game’s best center, and you don’t let a difference-maker go unless you have to let him go.
The Magic will ask Howard to sign a long-term extension, but how long will the franchise wait if he waffles?
3. Otis Smith’s future
Smith acknowledged Tuesday night to the Orlando Sentinel that he hasn’t decided whether he wants to return for 2012-13, even though that is the final year of his contract.
It might not be his choice.
He faces valid questions about many of his personnel moves in recent years. Although his acquisition of Rafer Alston in the middle of the 2008-09 was a great move and his trade to acquire Vince Carter and Ryan Anderson netted Anderson, there are some moves that have backfired.
Fran Vázquez still hasn’t joined the team and may never do so. Smith signed Chris Duhon and Quentin Richardson to long-term deals, and they haven’t produced at the level they were expected to produce. The Carter experiment fizzled. The trades of Dec. 18, 2010, backfired badly, as the team saddled itself with Gilbert Arenas (who will still receive $43 million over the next two seasons not to play for the Magic) and lost Marcin Gortat.
Smith also is under contract through the 2012-13 season.
4. Jameer Nelson’s future
The Magic’s starting point guard has a player option for 2012-13, and he has until June 15 to exercise that option. [Note: After Smith said on May 9 that Nelson had three days from the date of the team's final postseason game, the Magic corrected Smith, saying that Nelson had until July 15.]
Returning for one more season has one major advantage: It’ll guarantee him about $7.8 million in salary.
But returning also has disadvantages. He could be traded because he will be in the final year of his contract, and he won’t be able to block a trade. In addition, and he doesn’t know yet who the coach or the general manager will be.