John Hammond Rumors
Weltman and GM John Hammond are continuing to search for a coach to replace Frank Vogel, who was fired on April 12. Weltman declined comment when asked Tuesday if he and Hammond have finished interviewing prospective candidates. Weltman said: “The process has been, I think, deliberate and thorough, and we’re very pleased with some of the guys that we’ve interviewed, and we continue to move forward.”
In conversations with a bevy of league officials, as many as nine coaches – or almost a third of the league — could possibly be fired. Among the teams that are leaning heavily toward jettisoning their head coaches, according to league sources, are Memphis, Charlotte and Orlando. Additionally, Milwaukee, barring a deep run in the playoffs, and Phoenix are expected to hire new head coaches this summer. Some NBA officials contend Orlando is leaning toward replacing current head coach Frank Vogel with Jerry Stackhouse, who has strong ties with Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman and Magic general manager John Hammond. Toronto assistant coach Nick Nurse has also been mentioned as a potential Magic coach.
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.”
And now Vogel finds himself in a predicament coaches dread: on the hot seat, unsure if his team’s front office will retain him for next season. Vogel is in a precarious spot. Between Vogel’s first and second seasons, the Magic fired Rob Hennigan as the team’s general manager, dismissed many other key figures within the basketball operations department and hired Jeff Weltman as the president of basketball operations and John Hammond as the general manager.
As they have remained quiet, gossip has swirled for months within NBA circles about Vogel’s future. The speculation accelerated after the Magic followed a superb 8-4 start with an injury-fueled nine-game losing streak. The conjecture has always centered around an assumption that Weltman will want to pick his own coach rather than retain the coach he inherited. Then, with a new coach in place, Weltman ostensibly would undertake an incremental rebuild and reboot the failed effort that began under Hennigan.