The Orlando Magic have largely kept their head coaching search under wraps but two names emerged this morning: Tom Izzo and Steve Clifford.
Izzo, 63, has been the head coach for the Michigan State Men’s Basketball team since 1995. Before that, he was an assistant for the program for 12 years. He has led the team to seven appearances in the Final Four and also earned an NCAA national championship victory in 2000.
He is second all-time in conference victories for the Big 10 and has won more conference championships than any other coach in the history of the Big 10. The veteran coach has worked with several NBA players, highlighted by Draymond Green as well as Gary Harris and Zach Randolph. Others include Bryn Forbes and Denzel Valentine.
Michigan State has two prospects who will almost definitely be selected in the 2018 NBA Draft lottery: Jaren Jackson Jr. and Miles Bridges. Orlando has the sixth overall selection next month and a recent mock draft had their squad select Jackson Jr. (via The Athletic):
“[He] brings many qualities NBA teams look for in their big men. He can protect the rim, averaging three blocks in only 21.8 minutes per game at Michigan State. He can move his feet and defend the perimeter, and could be a real asset in a switch-heavy defensive scheme. Offensively, he can stretch the floor, knocking down 39.6 percent of his 3-point shots and 79.7 percent of his free throws, and could see his offensive role expand as his face-up game improves. He may never score 20 per night, but he’ll impact the game in important ways and maximize the number of schemes his head coach can use on both ends.”
The Magic were also linked to former Charlotte Hornets head coach Steve Clifford. The 56-year-old was an assistant for Orlando from 2007 until 2012 and obviously has ties to team owner Rich DeVos, who has been in control of the team since 1991.
There are several other high-ranking executives who are still with the team that were also there during his tenure.
He coached Magic big man Bismack Biyombo for two seasons in Charlotte.
One other name to consider for the franchise is NCAA head coach Kelvin Sampson.
He worked with their president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman and general manager John Hammond when he was an assistant coach for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Sampson has also served as an assistant for the Houston Rockets in the NBA. Besides his current head coaching experience at the University of Houston, he has served as a head coach for the Washington State Cougars as well as the Oklahoma Sooners and Indiana Hoosiers.