The Orlando Magic are giving strong consideration to a big change in their front office, according to league sources. Sources told ESPN that Magic general manager Rob Hennigan’s job is under threat at season’s end in the wake of a fifth straight non-playoff season since he was hired.
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Hennigan is under contract in Orlando through the 2017-18 season but, according to league sources, finds himself under as much pressure as any executive in the league at present.
If the Magic don’t find a big name to become president of basketball operations, the franchise would have no shortage of options to replace Hennigan. Current Magic assistant general managers Scott Perry and Matt Lloyd could draw consideration. Detroit Pistons associate general manager and former Magic player Pat Garrity and Warriors assistant general manager Travis Schlenk likely would be considered, too.
Although the team’s up-tempo style fits the current roster, Vogel has acknowledged he might have to adopt a different approach if, or when, the Magic remake their roster during the offseason. If the Magic fire general manager Rob Hennigan after the season, as many NBA insiders expect, then a roster overhaul could occur.
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.”
“We don’t evaluate any of our individuals in midseason,” Martins said when asked by the Orlando Sentinel about Hennigan’s job security. “Traditionally, we do that in a very comprehensive fashion at the end of each season, and this season is no different.”
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.
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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March 23, 2017 | 12:13 pm EDT Update
“I definitely feel like I’m in a position to be a long-term situation here,” said Noel, who admits he was frustrated as part of The Process-created center logjam with the 76ers. “There are a lot of things that come into it, but I’m definitely comfortable in the system. I’m going to continue to grow as this season ends and continue to capitalize on my opportunities and maybe even get more opportunities.” The Mavs see shades of Chandler in Noel: the length, the lean frame, the lift, the finishes on lobs and the knack for doing the little things on defense.
But the Mavs are more than willing to pay the going price for a big man who fits well, can protect the rim, provide the vertical element necessary for Carlisle’s pick-and-roll-heavy offense to hum and has plenty of room to grow. “I definitely feel like I’m in a better position here,” Noel said. “I’m trying to maximize it. It’s definitely a good position to fulfill my potential. I’m going to continue to show Coach I can be in the game more and make a difference. I think that will take care of itself in due time.”
He will be the underdog. He will be expected to play his level best and to bring out the unfulfilled potential in his teammates. He is going to be up against it and yet George was looking forward to his anxiety. He wants to feel the discomfort and nervousness of the playoffs, which, as he understands it, is not the goal for most people in the everyday working world. “At the end of the day, people enjoy being comfortable,” George said. “But that’s not what life is about.”
He’s not too surprised that he won’t be at that bash, but the man who constructed that title team is still disappointed that Allen is getting snubbed by his former teammates. “I was surprised,” Ainge said during his weekly interview with 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich on Thursday. “Ray was such a big part of that, it would defeat the purpose. He was a huge, huge part of that championship run.”
Ainge said he’s had a few conversations with Allen since he departed, but he’s never asked why he chose Miami. “I think I know; I lived that with him and went through that,” Ainge said. “I think there were a lot of contributing factors and not just one thing. It was a difficult decision for Ray and I wish he hadn’t done it. But he did. … I’m a fan of Ray and grateful for what he brought to the Boston Celtics. He’s a great guy.”