EAST LANSING, Mich. — Orlando Magic senior vice president Pat Williams, who helped found the franchise in 1989, said Monday he would like to see star center Dwight Howard and coach Stan Van Gundy both remain with the franchise for a long time.
Williams said restoring the team's health and winning would do a lot to help the franchise move past recent turmoil, capped when Van Gundy last week said that Howard wanted him fired. The coach and the star later met with Magic general manager Otis Smith, agreeing to co-exist the rest of the season and put the team first.
"Finish well and then have a wonderful run in the playoffs — that would probably cure most of the issues," Williams told The Associated Press before a scheduled speaking appearance at Michigan State University.
Howard is expected to sit out Orlando's home game Monday against Detroit because of back spasms. The Magic snapped a five-game losing streak by beating Philadelphia on Saturday.
Orlando would qualify for the playoffs if the season ended today. Williams said he would like to see both his coach and star player in Orlando for a long time after that.
"I don't know that you can find a better NBA coach than Stan Van Gundy out there," Williams said.
The long-time NBA executive said Howard is the "centerpiece" of the Magic, and the franchise is trying to prove to him that a title can be won in Orlando.
Williams acknowledged some potential areas of improvement for both coach and player.
Williams said Van Gundy would admit that he can sometimes be too negative. And he said that while Howard has "grown up a lot" there is still room for maturation on his end.
"I think this shook them both up — that's my opinion," Williams said of the incident last week. "I think they're going to better for it."