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Just as they had done numerous times before, past and present NBA players such as Shaquille O’Neal, Jameer Nelson and others, reached out to Magic CEO Alex Martins concerning Mr. DeVos. On Thursday, several contacted Martins and Magic leaders to pass along their condolences and fond memories about a man they considered to be, “the best owner in the NBA.’’ “You’d be amazed at how many players and former players I’ve already heard from today, including Shaq and Jameer and several others,’’ said Martins after announcing that DeVos – the Magic’s owner since 1991 – had died at his home in Ada, Mich.
In that respect, the Magic captured two Eastern Conference crowns, five division titles and won at least 50 games seven times during DeVos’ ownership. Twice, the Magic came close to winning a championship for Central Florida, losing in the NBA Finals in heartbreaking fashion in 1995 and 2009. Martins said being unable to secure a championship for DeVos will always be one of his greatest disappointments professionally. “My biggest regret today is that we didn’t bring him an NBA championship,’’ said the Magic CEO, who had known and worked with DeVos for the past 27 years. “We’ve said for years that we’ve got to get this done before he left us and that is the unfinished business, unfortunately. He wanted (an NBA championship) badly, but it’s not like he walked around saying it to everyone, `I’ve got to get an NBA championship; I want a NBA championship.’ You knew it from his actions and you knew it from the resources that he brought to the organization and you knew it from the way that he encouraged everyone.’’
Despite being confined to a wheelchair much of the past two years, he attended approximately 20 home games while rooting on the team from his customary seat along the baseline near the Magic bench. Before and after games, he’d show his support to the team’s players and coaches in the best way he knew how – through genuine, heart-felt words of encouragement. “He was in that locker room every night that he was here in the building. And he’d go around to every single player in that locker room – before and after the game – encouraging them before the game and shaking their hands afterwards even after a loss and telling them, `That’s OK, you gave it your best,’’’ Martins recalled. “That’s what who he was. He did want to win a championship and we wanted to win a championship for him. I’d say my biggest regret today is that we didn’t win a championship before he left us.’’
Charles Freeman, who is entering his 23rd season with the Orlando Magic, has been promoted to President of Business Operations, Chief Executive Officer Alex Martins announced today. Freeman, who was promoted to Chief Operating Officer in July of 2015, is responsible for oversight and management of tickets sales, premium sales, client services, ticket operations, corporate partnerships, marketing, arena operations, retail, philanthropy and social responsibility.
Orlando Sentinel: How will you approach free agency? Jeff Weltman: Obviously, we’ve begun our free-agent prep as we kind of dovetail in from the draft. But now that we know what our roster looks like post-draft, we’ll kind of hunker down this week and start to refine our wish list and where we think we can be effective and where we think we can get into conversations — and not just through free agency but also trades.
OS: How do you plan to approach Aaron Gordon’s pending restricted free agency? Weltman: We’ve worked hard to establish a relationship with Aaron and learn him and he learn us. And, obviously, a big part of this is just having relationships with his representatives and just having discussions with him as we move forward and start to see if there’s a middle ground that we can reach and strike a deal. And we’re hopeful that we can do that.
OS: A perception is that the Magic cannot afford to lose Aaron and not have anyone to show for the years that preceded your arrival. Is that accurate? Weltman: I don’t think of it in those terms. I just [ask], “Is it a good match for the player? Is it a good match for the team, both on the court and organizationally?” And if so, you can find a way to make things work. That’s generally what happens, and I believe that those things line up well in this situation. And we just hope for the best.
The Orlando Magic have named Ernest Eugene head athletic trainer, Luke Storey head strength and conditioning coach, Sameer Mehta physical therapist and Nathan Spencer performance and rehabilitation coach, President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman announced today. Per team policy, terms of the deals are not disclosed. In addition, Christian Espinoza, who served as an intern last season, has been promoted to full-time as assistant athletic trainer. Chad Gerhard (applied sports scientist) and Aki Tajima (athletic trainer/manual therapist) will remain on the staff.
Added Fournier, who missed his 17thconsecutive game on Wednesday with the knee injury that is almost fully healed: “It’s the nature of the business, so you don’t really think about it, to be honest. You just control what you can control. Obviously, we’re going to make moves this summer. It will be interesting to see what happens and we’ll live with it.’’
Elfrid Payton always knew a midseason trade could happen to him. Slated for free agency and with the Orlando Magic in the hands of new front-office executives Jeff Weltman and John Hammond, Payton realized he might not finish the season in Orlando. On Feb. 8, just before the annual NBA trade deadline expired, the Magic sent him to the Phoenix Suns for a second-round draft pick. “It did not hurt my feelings,” Payton said in a phone interview with the Orlando Sentinel.
“Coming into the season, I had already prepared myself mentally for something like this. No disrespect to Jeff and John, but I knew that they didn’t draft me. So I knew there was a possibility that in their new job they would want to put their stamp on the team or try to get their team. Even though that was the only move, I always told myself there was a chance that something like this could happen this season. So I was not sad or hurt by the decision or upset that I had to get all my stuff and move or wouldn’t be with my teammates no more.”
“It’s going to be weird,” forward Aaron Gordon said. “I miss E.P.” Center Nikola Vucevic said: “It’ll probably be a little weird to go against him for the first time. I’m sure he’ll come in fired up, ready to play. He played here for a couple of years, so I’m sure he’ll come in and try to put up a big game. So we’re going to have to be ready for that. It’ll be good to see him at the same time and catch up with him. But it’s certainly a little weird to play against him after playing so many years with him.”
McGrady, now an ESPN analyst and a special assistant to Magic CEO Alex Martins, was asked what the Magic need to do over the next year or two to improve. “You have to make it appealing for free agents to come here, and that’s the draft,” McGrady answered. “You have to discover great talent through the draft, and hopefully that talent develops like a Ben Simmons or a Joel Embiid. If you could put that together, then free agents will want to come here.”
“We don’t want the guys to come here where you offer them a certain amount of money [more] than another team and they go for this team because the money is there. Those type of guys you don’t really want a part of your franchise because they’re just money-chasing. As a player, hey, go for the money. But at the same time, you want guys that are passionate about playing the game and doing it for the team.”
Orlando could be making a coaching change, with former NBA player Jerry Stackhouse seen as the Magic’s No. 1 choice to replace Frank Vogel. After a 20-year career in which he was twice an All-Star, Stackhouse has coached Toronto’s G-League team and has close ties to Jeff Weltman, now running the Magic as president of basketball operations after being with the Raptors and seeing Stackhouse up close when he was an assistant coach.
In the days leading up to the deadline, did you expect to be traded or did the move catch you off guard? Elfrid Payton: Well, my mindset this whole season has been to be ready for whatever happens. I knew a trade was possible, especially having a new GM and president of basketball operations in Orlando. Because they didn’t draft me, I always understood there was a chance that they’d want to bring in their own guy. So the whole year, I was basically prepared for anything.
When you saw that you were traded for a second-round pick, what was your reaction? Did you feel disrespected at all? Elfrid Payton: I mean… A little bit. I think a lot of other people were more upset about it than I was, though. Others took it to heart more than I did, but that’s just because of the type of person I am. I’m pretty nonchalant and I don’t really get worked up, so it wasn’t really that big of a deal to me. I’ve always felt underrated and felt like I have to prove myself. I’m the kind of player who feels like you have to prove yourself every single night – no matter what you’ve done or who you are – because in this league everyone is thinking, “What have you done for me lately?” So it wasn’t too big of a deal to me. (Long pause) It was kind of crazy, though. I’ve seen a lot of people say that it was a steal for Phoenix and stuff like that; I guess time will tell. I heard they were offered a lot more than a second-round pick [from other teams], but they just didn’t decide to do one of those other trades… I don’t know all of the details, but I know they had offers from a team in the East and a different West Coast team other than Phoenix.
Orlando Magic General Manager John Hammond has lived in Florida for less than a year. But he’s seen enough of the weather here, and spent enough years in professional basketball, to make an accurate comparison between the buildup of a tropical storm and the buildup to the annual NBA trade deadline. “Today, it’s basically it’s nothing more than a beautiful day in Florida,” Hammond said, referring to this year’s trade deadline, which will expire on Feb. 8 at 3 p.m. “But there sometimes is a calm before the storm, and history shows the storms start coming in your direction maybe three days before or four days before, and the storms really start hitting 48 to 24 hours before. That doesn’t mean that we’re going to be in the middle of a storm, but we could.”
With the playoffs all but impossible, the widely held assumption throughout the NBA is that Magic President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman and John Hammond will try to trade some of the established players on the roster they inherited — perhaps 25-year-old swingman Evan Fournier and 27-year-old center Nikola Vucevic — to aid in a rebuild. In an interview, Hammond would not categorize the Magic as sellers. But he also acknowledged that if the team does make a move, it would not be for a quick fix and would likely be “to improve ourselves for the future.” So if the Magic trade anyone, the Magic likely would be interested in acquiring young players or draft picks or a combination of both.
The Magic have been in the NBA trade market for most of the season. The prevailing thought from league sources is while the Magic seem to be open for business, they are not open to taking much back in terms of salary which may make it hard for them to offload some of the contract money they seem to be trying to move. The two names that get the most play in NBA circles are guards Evan Fournier and Elfrid Payton. While the Magic seem to open to ideas on the entire roster, they have been pretty open that they are not doing a deal just to do a deal. The Magic’s stance is that anything they do has to meet their goals of being able to remake the team fairly quickly, so taking back long-term contracts are not in the plan. As the deadline nears, the Magic could move half the roster or make no moves at all.
Orlando Magic swingman Evan Fournier has played in the NBA long enough to know his name will pop up in rumors until the league’s trade deadline expires on Feb. 8. So Fournier has a policy this time of year: He attempts to ignore trade rumors. “I’m not going to think about what’s going to happen or where I would enjoy playing or something, because it’s all speculation,” Fournier told the Orlando Sentinel. That’s why I really don’t read this stuff: because you never know what’s going to happen. I got traded once and I had no idea. It really came out of nowhere. There was no rumors. There was nothing. And out of the blue I woke up one morning and I got traded. So I know this is just all talk. You really don’t know what’s going on upstairs [in front offices], so it really don’t matter, honestly. You’ve just got to focus on what you have to do, really. The rest is speculation.”
But victories have been rare for Orlando this season. Like all of his teammates, Evan Fournier has been disappointed by the Magic’s performance this season, and a recent Basketball Insiders article noted that “there is a sense” — ostensibly among other teams — that Fournier and teammate Nikola Vucevic “would welcome the chance to get to a winning situation.” Asked to respond to that characterization, Fournier insisted he has not asked for a trade. “Obviously, as a player you want to win,” he told the Sentinel. “But I will never ask [for] a trade or anything. I’m not that kind of guy. I’m a fighter and I’m definitely not a quitter. I don’t know what they plan to do, but I’m a Magic. I feel like I belong here, and for as long as I’m going to be here, I’m going to fight for this jersey and this city, man. It’s that simple.”
Throughout the Magic offices, they are trying to keep expectations modest, to tamp down the “future GM” talk even as they diligently work to prepare Bonner for that path. She did just begin the job, after all. Yet Bonner’s goal is explicit—”I want to be a GM,” she tells B/R Mag—and those who know her best, who have worked alongside her, from South Africa to Brazil to China, running clinics and aiding the U.S. Olympic team, are fairly certain where this is headed. As Kim Bohuny, the NBA’s senior vice president of international basketball operations, and a longtime mentor, told Bonner in the spring, “You can be a pioneer.”
Among this group, Becky Bonner is the one best positioned to smash the front office glass ceiling, say countless team and league officials who have worked with her. Her pedigree sets her apart—as a former high school star and Division I player, as a former college assistant coach, as a six-year veteran of the league office who’s worked with LeBron James and played scout team defender against Kevin Durant and, perhaps most significantly, as the middle child of New Hampshire’s first family of hoops. Older brother Matt Bonner played 12 seasons in the NBA after starring at Concord High. Younger brother Luke Bonner played four years in Division I and three years overseas. Becky was dribbling by kindergarten, playing on boys teams by fifth grade and battling her brothers just about every day of her youth. Being Matt’s sister exposed Becky to the inner workings of an NBA franchise. Her six-year tenure in league operations revealed her as a savvy administrator and relationship-builder. Her deep ties to the game lead straight back to Concord. She is, at heart, a gym rat. “I speak player,” she says.
Officially, Becky Bonner is the Magic’s director of player development and quality control—tasked with everything from player appearances and facilities upgrades to scouting and player evaluation. Unofficially, she’s training to become a general manager—perhaps the first female GM in league history. On this night, Bonner is shepherding Magic players through Walmart. Tomorrow, she’ll be filing reports on a batch of draft prospects, then watching the Magic-Clippers game from the executive suite, alongside Magic president Jeff Weltman and GM John Hammond. In the weeks and months ahead, she’ll be in the Magic’s war room, offering input on free-agent targets or potential deals in advance of the Feb. 8 trade deadline. She will be the lone female voice in that room—and one of the few in the NBA, period. “I just think she’s got unlimited potential,” says Weltman, who recruited Bonner from the league office in June, with the promise of full involvement in basketball operations and the belief she could one day run a team of her own. “It will evolve the way it evolves,” he says.
THE TEAM EXECUTIVES WHO hired Bonner are a progressive-minded group. It’s their arena that’s sexist. Case in point: There are only two ways to reach the team lounge, where players, coaches and team officials gather to eat and socialize. And both lead past the showers. “I feel awkward about it, but this is the way it is,” Bonner says while giving B/R Mag a brief tour. There’s no women’s bathroom in the vicinity, either. For that, she has to leave the practice court area and head down a hallway to the family lounge. These are modest inconveniences, but they illustrate the subtle ways in which NBA teams and facilities are still wholly geared toward male employees, without the slightest thought that a woman might work in the same space.
The Magic have held a summer league 14 times since 2002. “The pendulum is swinging toward teams playing in Vegas,” Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman told the Orlando Sentinel. “It’s a level of competition and a level of exposure when more or less every team in the league is there and you’re playing in front of 20,000 people as opposed to playing in a gym with a few hundred people. So it better prepares you for what NBA life is really about with the crowds, the pressure, the travel — a lot of what you’re going to have to confront. Obviously, it’s not a true test of an NBA season, but it’s a little taste.”
The decision to allow Hezonja to become a free agent next summer has a mutual benefit for a new front office who didn’t draft him, and a player and agent who are eager for a change of scenery and a chance to prove that Hezonja can justify the interest that exists for him elsewhere. The option still exists for Hezonja to re-sign with Orlando. Orlando president Jeff Weltman has been careful about committing future money to the underachieving roster that he inherited, resisting rookie contract extensions for Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon. He has wanted to evaluate the roster this season, and make decisions later on the future of the group.
OrlandoMagic.com: A couple of your young guys, Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon, are eligible for their contract extensions. How do you approach that and how much do you need those two players to make another huge jump this season? Jeff Weltman: “I won’t speak publicly about free-agency issues about our own players. We’re in contact with their agents and if something gets done, that’s great. If not, that’s great too. I’m really eager to get to know them as basketball players. I’ve gotten to know them a little, but they are two sensational kids who are extremely talented and their hearts are in the right place in terms of being just about winning. How does that look out on the court and in our locker room? I’m eager to see how that works, but I’m happy to have them here and I’m eager to see how they develop this season.’’
Steve Kyler: Magic have named Adetunji Adedipe as Assistant GM of the Lakeland Magic – he is a name to watch in the young executive circle.
Orlando owns the sixth, 25th, 33rd and 35th picks in the draft and it is hopeful that it will emerge with one, if not multiple, difference-making pieces. It’s the Magic’s first draft with Weltman and Hammond calling the shots and they feel the franchise is in a good spot despite the time crunch they have been faced with of late. “In a typical year, all we’d do right now is listen, talk to teams, figure out what’s out there and discuss what our options are,’’ said Weltman, who was hired on May 22 and officially brought Hammond on board a day later. “By this time, in a typical year, everything (in the evaluation process) would be behind us, but since it’s a new group, we’re still watching video and comparing notes on players and putting in extra work. … We’ve been in the office late every night.
Marc Stein: Now Jon Horst — who John Hammond wanted to bring to Orlando — is contending for GM alongside Zanik, who is heading Milwaukee’s draft prep
Josh Robbins: As Woj first reported last night, the Magic indeed are on track to hire former Kings GM Pete D’Alessandro as an assistant GM.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Sources: Orlando will send Toronto a 2018 second-round draft pick as compensation for hiring away new president Jeff Weltman.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Sources: As compensation for Weltman hire, Orlando will send Toronto the least favorable of the two second-round picks it controls in 2018.
A reporter asked Weltman why he hired Hammond. “Because he’s better than me,” Weltman answered. “What can I say? I’ve known John forever. I’ve worked with him. I’ve seen the guy. I can’t say enough good things about John Hammond. But I don’t want to gush about him because you guys will see for yourselves. And ultimately, we’re going to do a lot of talking here today, and then we’re going to walk out, and it’s up to us to prove it.”
Josh Robbins: Jeff Weltman: “The first sign of a bad boss is that he wins every argument. I don’t want to be that guy. So I want to listen.”
Josh Robbins: Lloyd has won a lot of praise for how he has handled a difficult situation following the dismissals of Rob Hennigan and Scott Perry.
“We are very excited to join Jeff (Weltman) and be a part of the team in Orlando,’’ Hammond said in a statement. “The Magic are a first-class organization all the way around and we look forward to this tremendous opportunity. I want to thank the ownership in Milwaukee, Wes Edens, Marc Lasry and Jamie Dinan, for their support and I certainly wish them well.’’
“John (Hammond) brings tremendous experience and is a great talent evaluator,’’ Weltman said in a statement. “He has experience in everything from day-to-day operations to player development. He built a great team in Milwaukee, and won a championship while in Detroit. We are very fortunate to have him as part of the Magic family.’’
Milwaukee Bucks general manager John Hammond has agreed to a five-year contract to join the Orlando Magic’s front office as GM, league sources told The Vertical. Hammond will reunite with new Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman to try to revive the foundering franchise.
Milwaukee had been planning to promote assistant GM Justin Zanik to run the franchise in 2018 and letting Hammond accept a long-term deal with the Magic clears the way for the promotion to come sooner, league sources told The Vertical. Milwaukee hired Zanik a year ago from the Utah Jazz, where he had worked under GM Dennis Lindsey.
Marc Stein: As @Brian Windhorst reported, John Hammond interviewed in Orlando for the president of basketball operations job Toronto’s Jeff Weltman landed
The Magic interviewed several candidates for the job including Milwaukee Bucks general manager John Hammond. The team was interested in hiring Cleveland Cavaliers general manager David Griffin for the position. Griffin had discussions about the job but never was able to formally interview because the Cavs did not grant permission and the Magic decided to move on.
The Orlando Magic have hired Toronto Raptors general manager Jeff Weltman as the franchise’s president of basketball operations, league sources told The Vertical. Weltman met with Orlando CEO Alex Martins and ownership on Monday, finalizing a five-year deal, league sources said.
Orlando officials had been intrigued with Cleveland GM David Griffin, but moved steadily toward Weltman as they became further engaged with his candidacy in recent weeks, league sources said. Weltman has been deeply involved in every aspect of the Raptors’ front office under president Masai Ujiri as Toronto became a perennial Eastern Conference contender.
Ryan Wolstat: Weltman obvs. knows T-Ross and Biyombo well. Lots of intel on Fournier and Payton from Masai/draft workouts.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Toronto GM Jeff Weltman has agreed to a deal to become the Orlando Magic’s President of Basketball Operations, sources tell @The Vertical.
Michael Scotto: Sources: The Orlando Magic have let go of several staff members today, including Harold Ellis, Michael Arcieri, and George Rodman.
Griffin’s contract expires at the end of June, and the Cavaliers could choose to hold onto Griffin past the end of the team’s playoffs run and the NBA draft on June 22 and forbid him to engage Orlando until the cusp of July 1 free agency. For Gilbert, it could be a stall tactic in hopes of making Orlando grow tired of waiting on Griffin and eventually offering its job elsewhere; or Gilbert could be planning to relent and let Griffin discuss the Orlando job with officials at the end of the Cavaliers’ playoff run. So far, Cleveland hasn’t made a substantive offer to Griffin, league sources told The Vertical.
Orlando is planning to start interviews with president candidates soon and hopes to meet with several possible candidates, including Milwaukee GM John Hammond and Kevin McHale, who is working in television now, league sources told The Vertical. Hammond has one year left on his contract, and Milwaukee ownership has discussed the possibility of a succession plan into a new regime.
Orlando has conducted an interview with interim GM Matt Lloyd, league sources told The Vertical. Lloyd is a holdover from former GM Rob Hennigan’s staff and is well regarded inside and outside the organization.
Cleveland Cavaliers general manager David Griffin remains the top current target in Orlando’s search for a new president of basketball operations, but at least three more candidates have emerged for the Magic, according to league sources.
Sources told ESPN.com that the Magic have interest in Milwaukee Bucks general manager John Hammond, Toronto Raptors general manager Jeff Weltman and former Minnesota Timberwolves president and Houston Rockets coach Kevin McHale.
Marc Stein: The Magic need a longer list with no assurance they get David Griffin. They likely can’t even speak to Griffin until Cavs’ playoff run ends
Marc Stein: USA Today’s @Sam Amick first reported the Magic’s interest in former Wolves president and Rockets coach Kevin McHale, who’s currently in TV
The Orlando Magic have started to interview candidates to head their basketball operations department, Magic CEO Alex Martins said Wednesday. But Martins cautioned that the hiring process could take a long time. “As we’ve said from the outset, we don’t expect a quick decision or a quick resolution due to the fact that there are some executives involved in the playoffs that we’re interested in speaking to and most likely we will not be granted permission [to speak with them] until those teams have been eliminated from the playoffs,” Martins said.
The Orlando Magic and their owners, the DeVos family, will purchase the Orlando Solar Bears hockey team, Magic officials announced Wednesday.
The Solar Bears, who play in the ECHL, will continue to play at Amway Center for the 2017-18 season. “We are thrilled to purchase the Solar Bears, giving the team the opportunity to continue to play in Orlando,” Magic CEO Alex Martins said in a statement. “The Solar Bears’ fan base has been outstanding and we look forward to an exciting future.”
Griffin, 47, who has been Cleveland’s general manager for more than three seasons, is a front runner to be offered a job as team president by the Orlando Magic at season’s end, according to multiple reports. But sources told cleveland.com that the Magic did not speak to Griffin about the job nor has it obtained permission to do so.
Magic officials have not spoken with Griffin, the Cavaliers’ general manager, because the Cavaliers have not completed their postseason yet. It would border on professional negligence if Magic CEO Alex Martins and the team’s owners, the DeVos family, already have made up their minds to offer Griffin their top basketball operations position without speaking with him first and, at the minimum, understanding how he would try to improve the Magic’s roster.
The Orlando Magic have serious interest in Hall of Famer and TNT analyst Kevin McHale for their team president position, according to two people with knowledge of the situation. The people spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the situation publicly.
McHale, who served as Minnesota Timberwolves vice president of basketball operations from 1995 to 2008 while also serving as the team’s head coach on two occasions, is known to be on the Timberwolves’ short list as well. The Magic would strongly prefer someone who has previously been a general manager for the president position.
Cleveland Cavaliers general manager David Griffin, who does not have a contract beyond this season, is known to be a frontrunner for the team president.
For now, Cleveland Cavaliers GM David Griffin remains the top candidate in the Magic’s search, but Orlando hasn’t yet asked for permission to speak with Griffin, largely because of the Cavaliers’ playoff status, sources said.
The Orlando Magic’s search process for a new top basketball executive could extend until the end of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ playoff run, which would allow Orlando to gauge the interest of general manager David Griffin, league sources told The Vertical. The Magic are researching multiple possible candidates to replace former GM Rob Hennigan, but the possibility of Griffin does intrigue Orlando CEO Alex Martins and top Magic officials, league sources said. Griffin’s contract expires at the end of the season and talks on a new contract with Cavaliers ownership have been stalled for months, league sources said. There’s an increasing belief among league executives that Griffin could be lured away from Cleveland, league sources said.
Out of the postseason following a highly disappointing 29-53 first season with the Magic, Vogel said the failures over the past seven months will drive him throughout what figures to be a busy offseason. “I do believe in balance in life and I do want to get away from it and let it go a little bit, but it’s going to sit with me all summer,’’ Vogel said candidly last week upon the Magic’s season wrapping up. “When I get back to work, I’m going to be very driven to do all of this studying and evaluation of our team to get this thing back going the right direction.’’
The decision to name Lloyd interim GM was announced as a means to give the Magic time to thoroughly explore the available candidates, some of whom are currently running teams in the postseason. The Magic have reached out to a number of candidates and have something of a working short list, according to sources close to the process.
There has been talk of Warriors executive Bob Myers, however, the Warriors and Myers extended his contract last summer, increasing his pay and adding more responsibility to his job function. Sources peg poaching Myers from the Warriors as the longest of long shots but admitted that Warriors assistant general manager Travis Schlenk is on the radar and will likely be interviewed.
There has been talk of something of a Frank Vogel reunion with former Pacer executive David Morway being linked to the Magic. Morway was last with the Milwaukee Bucks before exploring the Sacramento Kings front office. It’s believed Morway was well on his way to being the Kings president before the team shifted course and went with Vlade Divac. Morway is a long-time veteran executive, which suits the Magic’s desire for a top-down leader.
There has been a lot of talk about current Clippers president Doc Rivers making a return to Orlando, where he still maintains his off-season home. However, sources close to that situation said that Rivers addressed the rumors with Clippers owner Steve Ballmer back in March and pledged to stay in his current deal, a deal that pays him north of $11 million per year to skipper the Clippers as coach and team president.
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?
The NBA Draft Lottery will be held on May 15 and the NBA Draft is June 22, but Alex Martins said the Magic won’t be rushed into picking a new GM because of the importance of the position. “The factor that is going to dictate (the pace of the search) is that there are some individuals that we’re interested in who (have teams that) are playing in the NBA playoffs and we’re not going to be able to talk to them until their teams are eliminated,’’ Martins said.
“In terms of being prepared for the draft, I have no concerns about that whatsoever because I have a very high amount of confidence in Matt Lloyd and his team to prepare us for the draft,’’ Martins continued. “He’ll have everything lined up and prepared for when we do hire a GM, including if it is him. … Frank (Vogel) will be a big part of that (NBA Draft) preparation as well and he’ll work closely with Matt over the next several weeks in leading the Basketball Operations staff.’’
“I’m not pushing for that (GM job) because I’m a basketball coach,’’ Vogel continued. “It’s a difficult thing to do both because you have to separate your emotions. A lot of times, the coach wants to trade a different player every other game and obviously you can’t do that. I like the coach/GM dynamic of them viewing things from afar, them studying the league differently than I do and them taking an entire year studying the NBA Draft versus a coach finishing the year and trying to cram it all in. There’s an important separation there.’’
Ric Bucher: Sources: Ex-Magic GM Rob Hennigan took the photo of Patricio Garino signing w/whiteboard of FA info in background. Might’ve been last straw.
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September 21, 2018 | 5:49 pm EDT Update
With less than one week to go before media day on Sept. 24, Thibodeau was summoned to California for a meeting with Butler. He was planning on asking to be traded, but in the days leading up to the meeting several wondered if he would stick to his stance or soften it when Thibodeau charted his vision for the upcoming season. As Thibodeau laid out his plans, Butler told his coach that he wanted to be elsewhere. Thibodeau resisted, saying he couldn’t trade him because he wanted to make another playoff run this year. But Butler held firm.
Thibodeau has rebuffed trade calls to this point, even of the informal “what would it take?” variety that several teams have started to initiate, sources said. His hold on both positions in the organization hasn’t been strong for quite some time and it’s well known throughout the franchise that his relationship with Taylor got off to a bit of a rocky start. By all accounts, Thibodeau has been much more accessible and engaging with Taylor, and many in the organization, this summer. He has been working to establish relationships that he simply ignored in his first two seasons on the job, knowing full well that Year 3 could be considered make or break for the Thibodeau-Layden pairing.
This is Jimmy Butler. Thibs’ hand-picked pride and joy. The one who pledged to have his back through thick and thin and drag this woebegone franchise out of the dank cellar and into the spotlight. Now he wants out. And there remains a real possibility that he will not report to training camp next week if a trade has not been consummated, sources said.
Steve Aschburner: Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor, as NBA Board of Governors meeting in NYC adjourned, determinedly ducked questions re: Jimmy Butler, trade request, drama, etc.. “It’s disappointing,” was all he said. Will not be at team’s Media Day Monday or first w/outs.