Scott Skiles Rumors
In the wake of firing general manager Rob Hennigan, Magic CEO Alex Martins admitted that former coach Scott Skiles was right about the failed GM and should have stuck around until the team figured out what to do about it. Skiles quit after only one season because he did not like the roster Hennigan had put together or the lackadaisical culture Hennigan and assistant GM Scott Perry had cultivated among its core of young players. “Scott certainly had his concerns; I don’t think that was any secret,” Martins said when I asked if he should have listened to Skiles instead of Hennigan. “He made that very well known. He and I had several conversations about things during his tenure here.”
From talking to people close to the situation and listening to Martin’s public comments, it appears Skiles felt Hennigan and Perry coddled players and undermined the coaching staff’s ability to instill accountability. Skiles is a no-nonsense basketball lifer who didn’t like the work ethic of his young players or the culture created by the inexperienced Hennigan. “The culture is the atmosphere and the expectations you set up around your basketball team,” Martins explained on our Open Mike radio show Friday. “How are those expectations communicated? How are you holding everybody accountable? What is the true message about the level of commitment we expect? … What do we expect from them [players] day in and day out?
“I was surprised, like everyone else,” Vucevic told the Orlando Sentinel during a phone interview. “I don’t think anybody expected it to happen, but it was his decision. You just have to accept it and move on. It’s tough because I thought Coach was really doing something good for us. We were heading in the right direction. We finished up the season the right way. We had some good wins at the end. We were playing much better. He established a good foundation for the future. So it would’ve been good for us to kind of keep going with him, because he’s a good coach and also it’s important to have a certain continuity.”
He and Skiles appeared to have a good relationship. Vucevic said he played the best basketball of his career after he and Skiles had a one-on-one meeting early in the season. “He really helped us improve, and he helped me personally a lot,” Vucevic said. “We talked a lot throughout the year, and one thing I really liked about him was we’d have open conversations where you can tell him whatever you feel like, and he tells you. He doesn’t hold grudges or anything. He tells you. You move on. . . .
The Magic knew, of course, that Skiles had been unhappy and that Skiles and Hennigan had clashed at times throughout Skiles’ lone season coaching the team. But team officials thought an off-site retreat in late April that included Martins, Hennigan and Skiles — with Martins essentially serving as the mediator — had smoothed over any differences. They were wrong.