Magic GM Rob Hennigan could be out of a job if Orlando can’t turn its season around, writes Brian Schmitz of The Orlando Sentinel.
Hennigan had hoped to point the team on a path toward the playoffs with two controversial offseason moves. First came a draft-night trade with the Thunder that brought veteran power forward Serge Ibaka to Orlando in exchange for Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and the rights to 11th pick Domantas Sabonis. Next, Hennigan signed Raptors backup center Bismack Biyombo to a $72MM contract over four years.
The moves were designed to improve the Magic’s defense, but the team has encountered so much trouble scoring that it hasn’t mattered. New coach Frank Vogel made three lineup changes this week in an effort to find more offense, but so far all that has done is anger center Nikola Vucevic, who was sent to the bench in favor of Biyombo.
Hennigan has maneuvered himself into a difficult situation, Schmitz contends. After four straight seasons of missing the playoffs, the team can’t tank without fear of alienating its fan base, and it hasn’t been successful enough to land star players through free agency. All that’s left, the writer suggests, is another dramatic trade in which Hennigan sacrifices some of his newly acquired defense to add more offense.
Also, Hennigan’s draft record has been spotty. Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon, two first-round picks from 2014, have both been removed from the starting lineup, and 2015 first-rounder Mario Hezonja plays just 14 minutes per night. The GM’s best pick was Oladipo in 2013, but he is now in Oklahoma City.
With Orlando off to a 6-11 start through a little more than a month of the season, the clock is rapidly ticking on Hennigan. If he can’t turn the Magic into a playoff team, it may cost him his job.