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Southeast Notes: Magic, Vucevic, Hornets

The slow pace of the Magic’s coaching search may be tied to the Bulls’ Tom Thibodeau, according to Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel. Orlando hasn’t interviewed anyone for the opening since the season ended, and Robbins notes that many speculate the Magic are waiting to see if Chicago fires Thibodeau after its playoff run ends. The Nuggets are the only other NBA team with a coaching vacancy, and many league insiders say the Magic’s job is considered more attractive in coaching circles. So there is little pressure to fill the job right away, but that could change soon if Dwane Casey is fired in Toronto.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The four-year extension Nikola Vucevic agreed to in October should be a bargain for the Magic once the new television deal takes effect, Robbins contends in a separate story. Vucevic’s contract can be worth up to $53MM, which could be cheap for a productive center with the expected jump in the salary cap. The deal could eventually make Vucevic, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder this season, an attractive trade piece, but Robbins said he’s definitely in Orlando’s immediate plans. “They signed me here for the future, and that’s a responsibility I wanted: to be one of these leaders on the team,” Vucevic said.
  • An early-season ankle sprain was a bad omen for the Magic’s Kyle O’Quinn, writes Ken Hornack of Fox Sports Florida. The third-year player missed nearly a month with the ankle and was limited to just 51 games for the season. He will become a restricted free agent in July after making slightly more than $900K this year. “I don’t think that’s the biggest thing I have to worry about right now,” he said about free agency. “My biggest thing is being a better player, becoming more of a student of a game, getting back to where I need to be.”
  • The Hornets would like to own and operate their own D-League franchise, reports Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Eight teams currently have that arrangement with their D-League affiliates, while eight others fund the franchise and handle the basketball — but not the business — side of the operation. Charlotte officials have targeted seven cities in the Carolinas: Asheville, Charleston, Columbia, Fayetteville, Greensboro, Greenville (S.C.) and Raleigh. “We think this is a great opportunity for our basketball people to have complete autonomy and control of how that part of the business is run,” said team president Fred Whitfield.

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