“You can talk to him now,” Van Gundy said.
Howard was informed that Van Gundy said Howard wanted him gone.
When Howard was asked point blank if he asked to have Van Gundy fired, Howard referred reporters to a previous statement he had made to ESPN in which he had denied wanting Van Gundy to be dismissed.
“What did I just say yesterday?” Howard said. “I know you guys watch ESPN.”
Later, Howard said: “The only thing that we’re concerned with is winning a championship right now. Whatever happens at the end of the season is not under my control. I am a player for the Magic. I am not the GM. I am not [team owner] Rich DeVos. I am not Alex Martins. So that’s not my job. So you guys should stop with every other week [where] it’s trying to find something, because there’s nothing. There’s nothing. I haven’t said anything to anybody about anything. Our main concern is winning. So all the other stuff should stop.”
Martins has said the ultimate decision on Van Gundy's long-term status and Smith's long-term status will be made by DeVos, the 86-year-old owner of the franchise, and DeVos’ family.
Van Gundy has coached the Magic since the 2007-08 season and has compiled a 254-128 regular-season record during his tenure and a 30-24 playoff record, including a trip to the 2009 NBA Finals.
Van Gundy and Smith are under contract through the 2012-13 season.
The relationship between Howard and Van Gundy has run hot and cold.
In the past, Howard said he wanted Van Gundy to be less negative.
“I have no problem with him off the court,” Howard told Esquire magazine during the NBA lockout. “The only thing I had a real problem with was the way he coached. It was very tough with Stan, because he yelled a lot, and I don't want to be that guy to yell at my teammates along with my coach.”