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Magic fire coach Stan Van Gundy, GM also gone

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“This season, and we’ve been digesting it all year, has been the longest, shortest season that we’ve had,” Smith said. “But it’s something that you have to go through. Most sports franchises at some time go through a little bit of uncertainty and this is our time.”

Martins said that ideally the Magic’s next coach will have a championship pedigree, though acknowledged that the search wouldn’t exclude assistants or others who have experience. He said the same was true for the general manager position.

Martins was effusive in his praise as Van Gundy as a “great strategic coach,” but acknowledged that one of the factors they want to see in a new coach is someone who is great at building relationships with players.

“Strategically we may not be able to find anyone better,” he said.

Howard often commented about Van Gundy’s grumpy demeanor on the floor, saying it was at times counterproductive for the team.

This past summer Smith met with Van Gundy and he left that meeting pledging to make improvements. It included him meeting with a Stanford University psychology professor for advice on how to be a better leader.

And it seemed to work, with Van Gundy incurring just one technical during the shortened regular-season, a low during his Magic tenure.

But it wasn’t enough to save his job.

Now the attention shifts to Howard, who remains in Los Angeles recovering from his surgery.

Martins said team officials continue to be in dialogue with the all-star, but hasn’t yet gotten an answer on whether he would like to stay beyond next season when his contract expires.

After a season spent in limbo before Howard finally opted into the final year of his deal, Martins has said the team won’t repeat the same ordeal. That at least leaves open the possibility the Magic could trade him at some point should Howard not agree to sign long-term.

“I think the decision is on Dwight now,” Martins said. “Dwight needs to decide where his future lies.”

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Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/khightower.

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