Rob Hennigan Rumors
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 A big build-up has been replaced by a big letdown, leaving fans and season-ticket-holders sad, mad – or worse – indifferent.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.
The Magic have never been a “reactive” organization, but their patience as a franchise is not unlimited and there is a growing sense that if Orlando is not firmly in the hunt for .500 basketball and a playoff berth this year, Hennigan could be out next. There may not be a more likeable NBA executive in basketball than Hennigan, which makes talking about his potential exit a little tough. But the truth of the matter is, the Magic face a lot of pressure to get back to winning and there isn’t anyone else to put the blame on if that does not happen, especially with a projected payroll of $110 million this season and a roster without a single All-Star.
The Orlando Magic have signed six free agents: forward Cliff Alexander, forward Branden Dawson, guard Nick Johnson, guard Kevin Murphy, center Arinze Onuaku (ah-RIN-zay on-ooh-AH-koo) and forward Damjan Rudez (DAHM-yahn ROO-dezh), General Manager Rob Hennigan announced today. Per team policy, terms of the deals are not disclosed. Orlando’s roster stands at 19 players (see below), as training camp opens on Tuesday, September 27. Alexander (#2, 6’8”, 245, 11/16/95) played in eight games last season during his rookie campaign with Portland, averaging 1.3 ppg. in 4.5 minpg. He also spent time with the Santa Cruz Warriors of the NBA Development League. Alexander, who was not drafted by an NBA franchise, played in 28 games (six starts) during his only season at the University of Kansas (2014-15), averaging 7.1 ppg., 5.3 rpg. and 1.32 blkpg. in 17.5 minpg.
Kennedy: The front office brought in a lot of veterans such as Ibaka, Biyombo, Green, D.J. Augustin and Jodie Meeks. What did you think of the additions? They’re clearly win-now moves. Aaron Gordon: “It’s just exciting to me. I’ve always trusted Rob Hennigan and I’ve always trusted Scott Perry. To me, it validates my trust in them. They made moves that other people couldn’t have made. They were confident, aggressive moves. Now, it’s on us. We’re ready to play. We have the coach, the staff, the players, the organization. We have a foundation of players who have been there and been through the losing, and now it’s time to start winning.”
When I woke up that Friday, I checked my phone and saw that I had missed calls from my agent, manager and dad. That’s when I knew that the rumors must have been true, and that my time in Oklahoma City had come to an end. I called my manager, who asked me to meet him in the hotel lobby. There he told me that I had been traded to the Magic. I spent most of that day on phone speaking to different people, including Orlando’s GM Rob Hennigan. He used to work for the Thunder, and I’ve known him for a while. He told me how happy he was to add me to the team, how he trusted me, and believed in me. That conversation made me feel good about my new opportunity and the future.