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Stan Van Gundy still talks to Dwight Howard, thinks back is an issue

By Zach Harper | NBA writer
Stan Van Gundy explains to Dwight Howard the perils of auto-correct. (Getty Images)

It seems like it was just months ago that Dwight Howard and Stan Van Gundy were pitted against each other as mortal enemies as Howard tried to find a way out of Orlando for both himself and his head coach. With the NBA world caught in a "Dwightmare," we saw coaches and players thrown under buses left and right in Orlando.

Since the two parted ways with the Magic, Stan Van Gundy has been offered a TV job and then had it taken away mysteriously and Dwight has joined the Los Angeles Lakers while helping contribute to a frustrating and unacceptable start to the Lakers' season. The LA Times tells us that Van Gundy believes Howard's back and adjustment to being a secondary option are the problems right now.

"I don't think he looks quite as explosive or as quick as he has in the past," said Van Gundy, who coached Howard in Orlando for five seasons before being fired in May. "Now, he's still above almost everyone in the league at that size athletically, but he has not totally looked like himself to me."

"I think Dwight is going to be more than willing to make the adjustment," Van Gundy said, "but it's still an adjustment and it takes time mentally too because your ego — and ego is not a bad thing, it's a good thing, you need it to be great in this league — tells you that you're supposed to be the man and having to adjust to playing off somebody else is not an easy thing."

Van Gundy has never been one to hold his opinion when asked and his assessment seems fairly accurate. Howard is having to play off of a primary option for the first time in years and he has looked less than the stellar standard of defensive presence that we're used to seeing from the three-time Defensive Player of the Year.

Howard's former coach also let us in on the fact that they still text each other from time to time, mainly discussing how Howard played after a good game or Stan wishing his former pupil good luck prior to game time.

It's good to see that Stan Van Gundy holds no real ill will toward Howard for what went down. He understands the business after growing up in a basketball family and going through issues with his team and management back when he coached the Miami Heat. On various radio spots and podcasts he's been a guest on, he's always seemed at peace with what went down and feels confident in the job he did.

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