"Strategically we may not be able to find anyone better," he said.
Howard often commented about Van Gundy's grumpy demeanor on the floor, saying it was at times counterproductive for the team.
This past summer Smith met with Van Gundy and he left that meeting pledging to make improvements. It included him meeting with a Stanford University psychology professor for advice on how to be a better leader.
And it seemed to work, with Van Gundy incurring just one technical during the shortened regular-season, a low during his Magic tenure.
But it wasn't enough to save his job.
Now the attention shifts to Howard, who remains in Los Angeles recovering from his surgery.
Martins said team officials continue to be in dialogue with the all-star, but hasn't yet gotten an answer on whether he would like to stay beyond next season when his contract expires.
After a season spent in limbo before Howard finally opted into the final year of his deal, Martins has said the team won't repeat the same ordeal. That at least leaves open the possibility the Magic could trade him at some point should Howard not agree to sign long-term.
"I think the decision is on Dwight now," Martins said. "Dwight needs to decide where his future lies."
Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/khightower .
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