BHSN Exclusive: Howard reveals who should replace Van Gundy

By David Baumann, Bright House Sports Network
Last Updated: Sunday, April 08, 2012, 9:50 AM EDT

Multiple sources close to Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard told Bright House Sports Network's David Baumann that prior to the season, Howard indicated that he preferred the Magic would have hired Indiana Pacers associate head coach Brian Shaw or Golden State Warriors assistant coach Michael Malone to replace current Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy.  

Magic assistant coach Brendan Malone is the father of Warriors assistant Michael Malone.  "No, Michael was never asked," the elder Malone said, when asked recently if his son had any contact with the Orlando Magic about coming aboard this offseason.  "But, he's a great young coach and there are a lot of teams that want him."

BHSN has learned that a discussion of a hypothetical head coaching change took place between Howard and recently resigned Magic CEO Bob Vander Weide, however, no offseason coaching change was made, which led to part of Howard's growing frustration with the team.  A phone call to Vander Weide was not immediately returned.  

 "Dwight has nothing to do with the coach situation," according to Kevin Samples, Howard's manager.  When asked why a coaching change wasn't made after the Magic were bounced in the first round of the playoffs last season, Samples said, "That's a great question.  You'll have to ask Otis (Smith)."  

Despite Van Gundy's public admittance that management has made him aware of Howard's request to have him fired, Magic GM Otis Smith has continued to deny it.  Weeks ago, Smith also told BHSN he denied having any prior knowledge of Howard's preference for Shaw or Malone to replace Van Gundy.  

Howard continues to brush aside questions regarding his involvement in requesting a coaching change.  "I don't want to talk about that," and "Next question," are Howard's typical lines of defense when pressed about the issue.  

"He'll have to talk about it eventually," Samples said.       

The Magic play the 76ers tonight in Philadelphia.  Van Gundy remains the head coach of the team and Howard says he will play  tonight, despite a back injury which held him out of Friday's practice.  "I'll have to play," Howard said.  

The Magic are riding a five-game losing streak for the first time in five years.