Storyline: Magic Coaching Job

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David Fizdale, a frontrunner from the start of this process, has reportedly “gained serious traction” to becoming the next Knicks coach. A source confirmed that language reported by Yahoo! but also emphasized a deal with Fizdale was not finalized. As of Wednesday evening, other candidates had not been informed they were out of the race, according to multiple sources. Fizdale also interviewed – or was reportedly scheduled to interview — for the jobs in Charlotte, Phoenix and Orlando.

Q: Not a Blazers fan, but what do you think they should do next? — (Alex, Sacramento) Marc STEIN: I’m guessing you’re asking about the roster, but first we have to deal with the status of the coach (Terry Stotts) and the general manager (Neil Olshey). Throughout the Blazers’ first-round sweep by New Orleans, there were rumblings around the league that Stotts’ job was in jeopardy and that teams such as Orlando and Phoenix were ready to pounce if he indeed became available. But that talk has largely quieted since Portland’s early exit.

The only people who understand the highs and lows that NBA players go through and the grind of an 82-game regular season, Orlando Magic veteran center Marreese Speights said, is someone who actually played the game at the highest level themselves. “You want to play for a guy who has already played the game,’’ Speights said last week at the conclusion of the Magic’s season. “When you look at a Steve Kerr, Lionel Hollins or Mark Jackson, you want to play for them because they have been in the trenches and they’ve done the same stuff that you are doing (as a current player). They know the game a little bit more because they have been in your shoes.’’

Like the veteran Speights, Magic guard Arron Afflalo has played for all types of coaches over his 11 years in the NBA. Six of his 10 former coaches – Michael Curry, Brian Shaw, Derek Fisher, Kurt Rambis, Karl and Vaughn – played in the NBA prior to going into coaching. Afflalo said the essence of the player/coach relationship depends far more on relatability than whether or not a mentor once played NBA basketball. “It’s more of a communication thing,’’ Afflalo stressed. “Sometimes former players relate to other players and sometimes guys who didn’t play in the NBA are just really great communicators and motivators. They know the game and know how to teach the game. So, I can’t stand here and say for a fact that a former player would be better, but communication and accountability will always be the key with any coach.’’
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November 15, 2018 | 8:58 pm EST Update
“My thing to these guys is what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to chop down a big tree,” Fizdale said. “If you’re paying attention to if the tree is falling, you’re never going to get that tree down. We signed a covenant as a group, every guy. I said, ‘Hey, let’s make a commitment that no matter what happens that we stick together and we keep chopping this tree together.’ So the ax is just a symbol of us chopping this tree. Every day putting in the work with the right attitude. The right respect for what we’re trying to accomplish. And not let things linger, but keeping our eyes on the task of getting better.”