SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The Orlando Magic have their man ... again.
This time, it’s Stan Van Gundy. Billy Donovan says he feels “terrible” about all the confusion, but insists Florida is where he belongs.
The Magic finally resolved their coaching quandary Thursday, ending a rough two weeks in which they fired Brian Hill, pulled off the Donovan coup, then watched the bottom drop out on nearly everything.
They were lucky to reel in Van Gundy — their second choice from the beginning — because the Sacramento Kings were pursuing the former Miami Heat coach.
Van Gundy said it didn’t bother him to be second choice. He saw great potential in the Magic, has family in the area and doesn’t have to move far from Miami. But it’s been a frenetic affair that has kept Van Gundy and his wife awake more than 36 straight hours.
“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.”
The Magic said Wednesday that they would allow Donovan to back out of his five-year, $27.5 million deal, about three days after news broke that he changed his mind.
“I feel terrible about it. (The Magic are) a great organization,” Donovan said in Gainesville. “They have great ownership, and they’re great people. I feel sorry and have apologized. It was my decision; it was my mistake. I have to take responsibility for that, which I’m trying to do.”
Donovan was apologetic — to fans, his family, the Magic and Florida — but said no one from the Gators pressured him. He said Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley wouldn’t even talk about the situation because Donovan was under contract with Orlando.
“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.”
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.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
He was under contract with the Heat for another year, and the Magic had to give Miami one of its three second round picks in the upcoming draft, No. 39. The Heat also have the option of switching first-round picks with Orlando next year, but not if the Magic have a lottery pick. In that case, they could take a second-round selection or other compensation.
The Magic said they had a “legal right to hold Billy to the contract he signed,” but let him go because he wanted to be elsewhere.
Neither the team nor Donovan would discuss specifics of the breakup, but Donovan acknowledged he was prevented from coaching in the NBA. He didn’t specify for how long, but reports have circulated it was five years.
“That was something we both talked about, and that was something I was glad to accept because I knew in my heart that’s not where I wanted to be,” Donovan said. “I wanted to be at Florida.”
PBT: The Kings will stay in Sacramento under new ownership, which likely means a new front office and coach, too.
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