Insider: The Next Magic Coach?

Despite being considered one of the elite coaches in the NBA and easily becoming the most successful coach the history of the Orlando Magic, Stan Van Gundy likely won’t be retained by the club.

In a now famous video, Van Gundy let it be known that superstar Center Dwight Howard wanted Van Gundy fired.

Although there have been persistent rumors Howard still wants out of Orlando and his preferred destination supposedly remains Brooklyn, the Magic will likely continue to try to persuade Howard to sign a long-term contract extension with the Magic. That likely means parting with Van Gundy (and General Manager Otis Smith).

Based on his attitude over the course of the season, if the Magic do want to get rid of Van Gundy, the feeling may be mutual. Van Gundy was fed up with the drama of this season and may want to take a year off or even look for another job – he’d clearly be the top coach on the market.

If Van Gundy is indeed fired, the question becomes who replaces him? We’ve got a few candidates.

Nate McMillan

McMillan has previously been the head coach of the Seattle Supersonics and most recently, the Portland Trail Blazers. He was fired by Portland on March 15 among rumors of a team mutiny led by guards Raymond Felton and Jamal Crawford.

In his 12 years as head coach, McMillan has compiled a record of 478-452 (.514), but has a playoff record of just 14-20 (.412) and has only advanced out of the first round once, during the 2005 postseason with Seattle. McMillan was also an assistant to Mike Krzyzewski for the United States national team during the 2006 FIBA World Championship and 2008 olympics in Bejing. The U.S. team finished third in 2006 and took home the gold medal during the 2008 olympics.

McMillan has often been viewed as a player’s coach, which would clearly be a big difference from the attitude Van Gundy usually brings to work. Offensively, McMillan has never coached a big time Center like Howard, but he would undoubtedly love to work with a talent like Howard, should he remain with the team. McMillan’s slow-paced (The Blazers were the slowest-paced team in the NBA from 2009-2011), half court oriented offense wouldn’t provide the Magic with a major change.

Mike Malone

Malone is currently an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors and is the son of current Magic assistant coach Brendan Malone. Last season, Malone was an assistant to Monty Williams in New Orleans. Previously, Malone was an assistant for the LeBron James-led Cavaliers and the New York Knicks.

Malone is supposedly one of the coaches Dwight Howard would like the Magic to hire should they indeed fire Van Gundy.

Malone is currently the highest-paid assistant coach in the NBA, but has never been a head coach.

Malone was scheduled to meet with the Charlotte Bobcats on Tuesday and several other teams, including the Magic, are expected to show interest.

Brian Shaw

Shaw is a former Magic player, and a current assistant coach for the Indiana Pacers. After winning three championships with the Los Angeles Lakers, Shaw retired as a player in 2003. Shaw immediately became an assistant with the Lakers and remained with the team until¬†2011 when he was passed over as Phil Jackson’s successor in favor of Mike Brown.

This is Shaw’s first year with the Pacers.

When Jackson retired and the Lakers began their search for a new coach, Kobe Bryant gave his endorsement to Shaw, a former teammate. Jackson also supported Shaw and Shaw thinks his relationship with Jackson is the reason the Lakers didn’t give Shaw the job.

Like Malone, Shaw is reportedly one of the coaches Howard would like to play for.

Also like Malone, Shaw has never been a head coach.

These three coaches are probably considered the three hottest coaches out there, at least until Van Gundy potentially hits the open market. The Charlotte Bobcats have shown interest in all three, but the Bobcats are coming off of a season in which they posted the worst winning percentage in the history of the NBA, likely making the Magic a much more attractive opening despite the Dwight Howard drama.

The last time the Magic had a coaching vacancy, they looked to college, hiring Florida coach Billy Donovan in 2007. Donovan, of course, changed his mind, remained at Florida and the Magic hired Van Gundy.

Could the Magic try to go that route again?

John Calipari

Calipari has been one of the best coaches in the country over the last 20 years, leading three different schools – Massachusetts, Memphis and Kentucky – to the Final 4 during that span, finally winning his first national title with Kentucky in April. Calipari is 505-151 (.770) as a college coach and is an incredible 102-14 in three seasons at Kentucky.

After Calipari led UMass to a 31-1 record and a spot in the Final 4 during the 1995-96 season, Calipari jumped to the NBA, taking over the New Jersey Nets. Things didn’t go well. In just over two seasons, he was 72-112 (.391) and had just one winning season, a 43-39 year in the 1997-98 season. Calipari’s Nets started the next year 3-17 and Calipari was fired. He then spent a season as an assistant under Larry Brown in Philadelphia before taking over at Memphis.

If the Magic want to hire a college coach and are ready to dish out big money, Calipari could be on their radar, but calling it a long shot is an understatement.

Brad Stevens

Stevens has pulled off one of the most improbable runs in the history of college basketball, taking Butler to the 2010 National Championship game and despite losing star Gordon Hayward to the NBA draft, Stevens led Butler back to the Final 4 in 2011.

In five seasons at Butler, Stevens is 139-40 (.777).

Stevens has often expressed his desire to stay at Butler despite often being connected with bigger jobs, including Clemson, Oregon and Wake Forest. Butler is currently under contract through the 2021-22 season and is rumored to make around $1 million a year.

The draw of an NBA job could be too much and it would be certainly be interesting to see what Stevens could do on another level, but at this moment, Stevens leaving Butler seems extremely unlikely.

Clearly, those currently involved in the NBA are much more likely candidates for the potential opening, but it will be interesting to see what kind of search the Magic go on and how much money they will be willing to spend.

(Andrew Melnick is the ESPNFlorida.com Magic and NBA Insider, co-host of the ESPN 1080 Insiders Show and publisher of Howard the Dunk. The Insiders Show can be heard Sunday mornings at 10:00 am EST on AM 1080 in Orlando and on ESPNFlorida.com. You can follow Andrew on twitter here.)

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