Storyline: Rob Hennigan Hot Seat?

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Sources tell the Orlando Sentinel that Magic officials have interest in former NBA All-Star and former Magic player Grant Hill to work as president of basketball operations. But it’s unclear if Hill has interest in the job. Joining the Magic would require Hill to divest his small ownership stake in the Atlanta Hawks. If Hill doesn’t have interest, candidates for the general manager job likely would include Detroit Pistons associate general manager and former Magic player Pat Garrity and Golden State Warriors assistant general manager Travis Schlenk.

Hennigan was very candid recently when I asked him about the barrage of criticism he is facing. He said he fully understands why fans are so upset about a team that now has the second-worst record in the Eastern Conference. “First and foremost, the criticism is warranted,” Hennigan said. “I don’t know if it’s welcome because no one likes to get criticized, but the job we have and the job we’re trying to do is certainly subject to that. Our fans, quite frankly, deserve to be upset and deserve to be frustrated. … I think the proverbial hot seat comes with the territory.”

Sources close to the process say they are not sold that Martins will fire Hennigan. Much like the first year in 2012, Martins knew the team was embarking on a new course, one built around more veterans. The Magic landed a few in free agency and will be set up nicely this summer to pursue more. As the Magic sit today they have just $67.4 million in salary commitments for the 2017 season, with the salary cap set to be just at $102 million, giving the Magic about $34.6 million to spend this summer.

Rob Hennigan on the hot seat?

Hennigan’s seat as general manager couldn’t be any hotter now that the season is going seriously sideways. As the pressure to win increased, he scrapped a rather pedestrian youth movement and brought in promising veterans this summer. The result: After roughly a month of disjointed, disheartening play, the Magic look closer to making a fifth straight lottery appearance than their first playoff appearance since 2011-12. A big build-up has been replaced by a big letdown, leaving fans and season-ticket-holders sad, mad – or worse – indifferent.

If this thing doesn’t turn around – and the odds are long with a dreadful offense that has forced coach Frank Vogel to already make three starting-lineup changes – the Magic will have no choice but to fire Hennigan. They will need a new set of eyes on the job site, yet another blueprint to sell. That’s the way it works in sports – and Hennigan knows it. The Magic could be in the toughest spot imaginable now that Hennigan has played the only two hands you can play in a rebuild. The Magic can’t tank again in hopes of landing that cornerstone star in the lottery (you can’t purposely torture your fan base anymore). And they certainly haven’t been winning enough to be front-runners to attract that cornerstone star via free agency, although this is their best option beyond pulling off a franchise-changing trade.
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April 29, 2017 | 10:01 pm EDT Update
Howard is not happy. The day after the Hawks were drop-kicked into the off-season by Washington, he used the word “pissed” three times to describe his feelings about the way both his and the team’s the season ended. “It was very difficult,” Howard said Saturday. “I want to play. I want to be out on the floor. I want to make a difference. I want to make an impact and I can’t do that on the bench.”