Jeff Weltman Rumors
Magic president Jeff Weltman inherited an expensive and bad roster, limiting his options to shape it. He also inherited coach Frank Vogel, and maybe there’s something Weltman will do about that. Marc Stein of The New York Times in his newsletter: “Orlando’s ongoing malaise, especially after the promise of an unexpected 8-4 start, make it a widely held assumption in coaching circles that Vogel will be dismissed after the franchise’s sixth successive season out of the playoffs.”
Elfrid Payton always knew a midseason trade could happen to him. Slated for free agency and with the Orlando Magic in the hands of new front-office executives Jeff Weltman and John Hammond, Payton realized he might not finish the season in Orlando. On Feb. 8, just before the annual NBA trade deadline expired, the Magic sent him to the Phoenix Suns for a second-round draft pick. “It did not hurt my feelings,” Payton said in a phone interview with the Orlando Sentinel.
“Coming into the season, I had already prepared myself mentally for something like this. No disrespect to Jeff and John, but I knew that they didn’t draft me. So I knew there was a possibility that in their new job they would want to put their stamp on the team or try to get their team. Even though that was the only move, I always told myself there was a chance that something like this could happen this season. So I was not sad or hurt by the decision or upset that I had to get all my stuff and move or wouldn’t be with my teammates no more.”
“It’s going to be weird,” forward Aaron Gordon said. “I miss E.P.” Center Nikola Vucevic said: “It’ll probably be a little weird to go against him for the first time. I’m sure he’ll come in fired up, ready to play. He played here for a couple of years, so I’m sure he’ll come in and try to put up a big game. So we’re going to have to be ready for that. It’ll be good to see him at the same time and catch up with him. But it’s certainly a little weird to play against him after playing so many years with him.”
And now Vogel finds himself in a predicament coaches dread: on the hot seat, unsure if his team’s front office will retain him for next season. Vogel is in a precarious spot. Between Vogel’s first and second seasons, the Magic fired Rob Hennigan as the team’s general manager, dismissed many other key figures within the basketball operations department and hired Jeff Weltman as the president of basketball operations and John Hammond as the general manager.
As they have remained quiet, gossip has swirled for months within NBA circles about Vogel’s future. The speculation accelerated after the Magic followed a superb 8-4 start with an injury-fueled nine-game losing streak. The conjecture has always centered around an assumption that Weltman will want to pick his own coach rather than retain the coach he inherited. Then, with a new coach in place, Weltman ostensibly would undertake an incremental rebuild and reboot the failed effort that began under Hennigan.
Many executives and scouts throughout the NBA think the Magic’s roster has been flawed throughout Vogel’s tenure. In the months leading into Vogel’s first season, the Magic made two major failed moves. First, the team traded Victor Oladipo and the draft rights to Domantas Sabonis for Serge Ibaka. Then it signed center Bismack Biyombo to a four-year deal worth $17 million per season.