|Magic going with Van Gundy, Donovan says he's sorry|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 07 June 2007 21:38|
The Magic introduced Van Gundy on Thursday, ending Billy Donovan's franchise record-short tenure and finally resolving one of the most bizarre coaching fiascos in NBA history.
Donovan said his apologies. He agonized over the decision - just like leaving Florida - but knew within a day it just wasn't right.
For the second time in six days, general manager Otis Smith posed for pictures with his new head coach.
``We targeted two guys, and we actually hired them both within a six-day period of time,'' Smith said.
The Magic were lucky to snag Van Gundy. He was their runaway second choice, but the Sacramento Kings were also aggressively pursuing him.
Donovan's indecision threatened to lose Orlando another coach, but everything fell together.
``The first reaction obviously was surprise when (Magic general manager Otis Smith) called over the weekend - I was a little bit shocked,'' Van Gundy said. ``And then from there, just so many ups and downs on whether I thought it was going to work out or not work out.
``It seemed to be changing almost hourly, and we were truly on an emotional roller coaster for quite a while.''
Donovan was apologetic - to fans, his family, the Magic and the Univeristy of Florida - but said no one from the Gators pressured him.
``When I made the decision, the next morning it just did not feel right for me,'' Donovan said. ``I've got too much respect for the Magic, for the organization, for their team, for their fans, to continue on.''
The Magic said Wednesday they'd let Donovan out of his five-year, $27.5 million deal, about three days after news broke that he changed his mind. The team said it had a ``legal right to hold Billy to the contract he signed.''
Donovan acknowledged an NBA coaching ban was part of the breakup, but didn't specify how long. Reports have circulated it was five years.
Van Gundy coached the Heat for more than two seasons, resigning last year but remaining with the team as an adviser to coach Pat Riley.
Because he was still under contract, the Magic had to give Miami one of its three second-round picks in the upcoming draft, No. 39. Orlando will also trade first-round picks with the Heat next season, if it would benefit the Heat, unless the Magic are in the lottery. In that case, they would offer another second-round pick or other compensation.
Van Gundy was in Sacramento yesterday, close to accepting a job with the Kings because the Orlando situation was so fragile. But Van Gundy said Orlando was his top choice.
``From a professional standpoint this is just a tremendous opportunity,'' he said. ``You come to a franchise here in Orlando that has a great young core, starting with a 21-year-old All-Star in Dwight Howard, several other very good young players, salary cap flexibility - and beyond the flexibility moneywise a very attractive place for players to come.''
Van Gundy was Riley's longtime protege before taking over as Heat coach shortly before Dwyane Wade's first season, in 2003-04. That team started 0-7, but wound up 42-40 and made the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Wade, the MVP of last season's NBA finals, credits Van Gundy for turning the season around.
Now, the two will meet four times a season as opponents in the Southeast Division.
Van Gundy's brother, Jeff, spent parts of 11 seasons coaching the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets. Last month, Jeff was fired from the Rockets. Their father, Bill, was a successful college coach in upstate New York.
Stan Van Gundy resigned as the Heat's coach 21 games into the 2005-06 season, citing personal and family reasons. Riley took over, leading the Heat to their first championship.
Van Gundy said he was ready to coach after taking a year and a half off - his first vacation from 25 years as a college and pro coach and assistant.
``I got a chance to recharge and get reacquainted with my family and do a lot of things. But in the last six months, really since the turn of the year, probably after the holidays, I started wanting to get back in it more and more,'' Van Gundy said.
Van Gundy was 112-73 at Miami and in 2004-05 won the Southeast Division and made the Eastern Conference finals. The team won 59 games that season, second best in franchise history.
AP Sports Writer Tim Reynolds in Miami contributed to this report.