The Orlando Magic parted ways with head coach Frank Vogel after two seasons and will now begin the process of finding his replacement.
We took a look at the most realistic options who could step in for Orlando, who will have cap space and a top draft pick this offseason.
Jerry Stackhouse, Raptors 905 Head Coach (G League)
Magic general manager John Hammond was an assistant GM and assistant coach on the Detroit Pistons while Stackhouse was there during his prime. Later, Hammond reunited with Stackhouse when he signed him to the Milwaukee Bucks in 2009-10.
Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman also has history with Stackhouse, as he served as an assistant coach for the Toronto Raptors when Weltman was an executive there.
One of Stackhouse’s former coaches, David Fizdale, recently gave wonderful praise to the up-and-coming coach (via The Undefeated):
“He’s been a head coach and he’s won. ‘Stack’ is a no-nonsense guy who believes in doing things the hard, tough and right way. His team will reflect his attitude: gritty, tough-minded team. I coached ‘Stack’ and I was able to use him to help develop some things [for a wing player] in the post [and share with] Dwyane and LeBron. He is a great communicator. He is not a know-everything kind of guy. He is very relatable. He’s ready.”
Stackhouse is a highly coveted coaching candidate right now. In addition to Orlando, he has been linked to the New York Knicks’ and Milwaukee Bucks’ vacancies as well.
Nick Nurse, Toronto Raptors Assistant Coach
“Change was the goal when the Raptors hired Nick Nurse, an offensive guru from the (then) D-League, in the summer of 2013. Nurse came in for an interview, and on an office whiteboard drew the offense he envisioned: different starting points, reads, passes, options.”
According to Nurse, the framework for their current offense that secured the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference this season was on that whiteboard. Like Stackhouse, Weltman and Nurse have history from their time together in Toronto.
Adrian Griffin, Oklahoma City Thunder Assistant
Marc Stein reported that Griffin previously had a “real shot” at the Magic’s head coaching job before it was offered to Vogel. Jordan Greer wrote about why Griffin is such an attractive option (via Sporting News):
“Following nearly a decade as a player, Griffin has served as an assistant coach in Milwaukee, Chicago, Orlando and currently Oklahoma City. He has a habit of building relationships with those around him. He’s a guy who has made an impact at every stop but doesn’t need to take credit for individual or team success. Griffin is also a defensive-minded coach, having spent time under Tom Thibodeau with the Bulls.”
His previous tenure in Orlando could help him, along with the fact that he was a coach with the Bucks when Hammond was their GM.
Igor Kokoškov, Utah Jazz Assistant Coach
He is a former Orlando assistant who Chris Mannix described as one of the top options to take over as a head coach this offseason (via Yahoo Sports):
“Kokoškov’s résumé is impressive: An assistant for six teams in 17 seasons — including a spot on Detroit’s title-winning staff in 2004 — and the distinction of being the first European coach to hold a full-time position with an NCAA Division I school, working for Jazz coach Quin Snyder at Missouri. Several executives cited Kokoškov’s performance last summer, when he coached Slovenia to a championship at the FIBA EuroBasket tournament.”
Utah had an impressive season and given his link to top draft prospect Luka Doncic, who played for him on the Slovenian national team last summer, his stock might be at an all-time high. As Mannix mentioned, Kokoškov and Hammond go way back too.
Randy Wittman, Orlando Magic Consultant
The former Washington Wizards head coach is already working with the Magic as a coaching consultant, as noted above. Some thought he could have been a good option to take over in 2016 (via FanSided):
“If the Magic are looking for a dedicated coach who’s going to hold his players accountable, Wittman will at least be considered for the gig. As the situation develops and the Magic compile their list of coaches, Wittman should be a name that sparks some interest.”
Wittman, 58, is the most experienced name on this list and would be ready to take over immediately.
Rex Kalamian, Toronto Raptors Assistant Coach
James Harden considered him one of his “favorite” coaches when the two were with the Oklahoma City Thunder. He has been linked to the Orlando job due to his experience and his ties to Hammond and Weltman (via Sporting News):
“Kalamian has been a coaching lifer, and he has connections to Hammond going back to the Clippers in the 1990s. Kalamian is now with the Raptors and also has connections to team president Jeff Weltman, who was the GM in Toronto before taking the Magic job. He’s been considered a potential head coaching prospect for years now.”
Don’t be surprised if the Toronto assistant, who is also beloved by his players, is interviewed for this gig if it is still available after the Raptors’ season ends.
Ime Udoka, San Antonio Spurs Assistant Coach
As a member of the coaching tree under Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, Udoka has impressed as a candidate (via ESPN):
“[He] already has a number of fans around the league who have a ton of admiration for his basketball smarts, manner and personal journey … Players and coaches who know him describe Udoka as a stoic with an even disposition, more of an inner intensity than a roaring fire. At Spurs U, he’s at the finest graduate school in the league.”
He helped convince San Antonio big man LaMarcus Aldridge to sign with the Spurs and has been considered a top head coaching prospect for the last three years.
Darrell Armstrong, Dallas Mavericks Assistant Coach
Armstrong, who was a longtime player for the Magic, was always greeted with a warm welcome when he returned to Orlando. Sean Deveney spoke about why he would be a good fit (via Sporting News):
“Of course, if we’re looking to the 1999-2000 Magic, Armstrong is the first name that comes to mind. He has had a good coaching education working with Rick Carlisle in Dallas since 2009, and he was considered a possibility for the Magic job in 2016. He’d be a well-liked choice, at the very least.”
He won Most Improved Player and Sixth Man of the Year in 1999 on the Magic.
Kaleb Canales, Dallas Mavericks Assistant Coach
Kaleb Canales briefly served as the interim head coach for the Portland Trail Blazers. During this time, he showed his passion and dedication to the job (via ESPN):
“He would sleep in the film room bringing a sleeping bag and a blanket, he would rarely go home. He was just that devoted and dedicated to getting better and making sure we were prepared.”
The former video coordinator for the organization was considered a finalist for the head coaching job before it was given to Terry Stotts.
Brian Shaw, Los Angeles Lakers Associate Coach
Shaw, who used to play for the Magic, was linked to their potential coaching vacancy in July of 2012 before the team ultimately hired Jacque Vaughn.
He was again linked to Orlando’s opening in March of 2015 (via Orlando Sentinel):
“A person close to Shaw [said] that the former Magic guard would ‘absolutely’ be ‘very interested’ if or when the job opens.”
While he is currently the associate head coach with the Los Angeles Lakers, it’s certainly possible he receives consideration from the Magic again. (While Orlando’s front office has changed, CEO Alex Martins is still with the organization and has significant influence.