Van Gundy speaks to Orlando Magic season ticket holders
August 29, 2007
First-year Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy didn't promise a championship just yet that will come later -- but he did promise today a team this season that will be considerably more exciting than it has been in many years.
"We need to put a product on the floor that you can get excited about," Van Gundy said. "We have a roster of players and the talent now to compete with anyone in the Eastern Conference. It's our job to deliver."
Van Gundy was speaking Wednesday to a breakfast audience at the RDV Sportplex of 150 new season ticket holders. His message was clear: This team will be an improvement from the one that finished with a 40-42 record and was rudely swept in the first round of the playoffs. After the season, the Magic fired coach Brian Hill after two years on the job.
"There are 30 organizations in NBA that talk about winning a championship, but the difference is whether they have the commitment to make it happen," he said. "We have that commitment here.
"The most noticeable difference in the Magic this season will be forward Rashard Lewis, a free agent who was signed to a six-year, $118 million contract, a more wide-open style of play, and an increased emphasis on taking 3-point shots.
The Magic don't open training camp until Sept. 29, but Van Gundy said he is itching to start it today, and his players already are in good enough condition to do it.
"I'm like a kid at Christmas just waiting to open his first present," he said. "We don't have a single guy on the roster who isn't working on his game on a daily basis right now. That's rare in the NBA during the off season. We've got four weeks to go, but I think everyone is ready."
The Magic have had Van Gundy speaking to a variety of season-ticket holders in the last few week, providing a glimpse of what to expect this season. The Magic have 14 players already under contract.
He said Wednesday that the off-season conditioning of his team should help with a fast start and a faster pace. He also said that despite speculation to the contrary, he has not settled on any kind of a lineup just yet, preferring to let his players battle in training camp to determine who plays.
"I know a couple guys who are going to start (Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis), but after that, it's pretty wide open," he said. "It's not my job to keep everyone happy. This organization is focused on results. We've got 14 guys under contract, but that doesn't mean they can relax. Every fall there are 15-20 guys in the league with contracts who get cut."
Although veteran forward Bo Outlaw is not on the Magic roster today, and he is unlikely to receive a guaranteed contract, there is a good chance that he will be on the training camp roster, hoping to earn a spot for this season.