The problems in Orlando all started before this season even got underway. That’s when their superstar center Dwight Howard asked to be traded. The problems with the Magic never stopped and neither did the speculation about the future of the team. After one of the most rocky seasons in franchise history and another early playoff exit, the Magic have started the changes that were almost a foregone conclusion. Not only was head coach Stan Van Gundy fired, but General Manager Otis Smith was handed his pink slip as well. More changes are on the horizon, but until the drama surrounding Dwight Howard dissipates, then the Magic’s issues are sure to continue.
JJ Redick joined WYGM in Orlando to talk about his future in Orlando, whether he would like to stay in Orlando for his career, what he thought about Stan Van Gundy, how he felt when he found out about the changes in Orlando this offseason, if there were locker room problems this past year in Orlando, how he would describe this past season and if his view of Dwight Howard has changed because of everything that has transpired.
On his future in Orlando:
“I don’t know what’s going to happen. In terms of my contract being guaranteed I don’t think it is going to be something where the Magic just release me. I think that they would either choose to trade me or they would choose to keep me. I think there would be something that they could get in return with a draft pick or maybe five dollars in cash I don’t know. Hopefully they could get something back for me so I’m not necessarily worried about getting released. I’m more worried about getting traded. Obviously a lot is going to depend on who the new GM is, who the new coach is and what happens with Dwight and his situation and what direction this franchise is headed.”
Whether he would like to stay in Orlando:
“I tell people this all the time, I would love to play my entire career here in Orlando. Central Florida has become home for me and I really, really do love playing for the Orlando Magic and I have to be honest I loved playing for Stan so I don’t know what the next phase, how we’re going to transition into it with this organization. I don’t know who the General Manager is going to be and I don’t know who is going to coach so obviously as a player you want some certainty and some clarity so I’m interested to see what happens the next few weeks.”
What he thought about Stan Van Gundy as a coach:
“I loved Stan and everybody knows Stan and I didn’t get off to the best of starts. My second year in the league I played zip. I think I played in 34 games and averaged eight minutes per game which basically means I played garbage time so I didn’t play at all that year and I was upset for about half the year and kind of towards the All-Star break, I realized this guy can really, really coach and his approach is about one thing and that one thing is winning. As a competitor, that is something I really respect. I respect Stan so much as a person and obviously all the stuff he does off-the-court. His honesty I actually love and I have so much respect for Stan and really just enjoy playing with him because of that approach, because his number one priority is winning and he doesn’t care about all the other B.S. He just wants to win.”
How he felt when Stan Van Gundy was let go:
“Yeah I think that’s the best way to say it. I was disappointed. I can’t say that I was shocked because there had been so much speculation and obviously with how this season turned out and the disappointment of the last two years of losing in the first round, obviously someone kind of had to take the fall for that but I went on Doug Gottlieb’s show the day after it happened and I will say this, I don’t think Stan is to blame, I don’t think Dwight is to blame, I think each player and each coach has to take some responsibility myself. At the end of every season I look in the mirror and ask myself what can I do better? Where did I screw up this year? Why are we still not playing? What could I have done to help us beat Indiana? I think about all those things and I think for the most part everybody should be thinking about that and unfortunately Stan was the guy that took the heat of it.”
Whether there were locker room problems in Orlando this past season:
“Yeah I don’t think we were as unified as we could’ve been and maybe that is an understatement but there were some issues. We had a great culture the years that we won in 2009 and made it to the Finals. 2008 where it was kind of our first year winning 50 games for Stan’s first year. 2010 when we made it to the Conference Finals again and I really enjoyed our locker room. Those were three teams that I loved being around. In ’08 we had guys like Keyon Dooling, Tony Battie, who had great approaches, were professionals, MP (Mickael Pietrus), Marcin (Gortat), Courtney Lee and myself, we had young guys in ’09 and really the 2010 team to me was my favorite team I played on because we just did everything as a team and it was my one year where everybody kind of bonded on and off the court and then for whatever reason the culture has just changed over the last two years and that certainly affects the locker room. I can’t say it was outright arguing but look there were some issues. I think if you watched us play this year you knew that. You don’t score 66 points in games and lose by 30. That doesn’t happen five times in a season unless there’s some issues.”
How he would describe this past season in the NBA:
“I would describe this season as chaotic. It was. The Schedule was chaotic, the media attention we got was chaotic and granted some of the media attention we were directly responsible for but I don’t think there was ever a point in time where I felt at ease or sense of we have this thing heading in the right direction. Even when we were 32-18 and had the fifth best record in the NBA, we’re basically 80 percent of the way through the season and there was still a sense of chaos.”
Whether his view of Dwight Howard has changed:
I can’t say that it has changed. I told Dwight this, one of the last conversations I had with him before he left the team and went to deal with his health issues, I told him I said I know at his core and in his heart Dwight is a good kid with good intentions and I still believe that but I just think eventually Dwight will have to make some tough decisions and really that is on him.”