The Magic have signed GM Rob Hennigan to an extension that carries through the 2017/18 season, the Magic announced. Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel reported earlier this morning that the sides were close (Twitter link). The news is no surprise, as Robbins reported a month ago that the team would seek an extension, and two weeks ago the Sentinel scribe relayed that all signs pointed to the sides striking a deal soon. Magic CEO Alex Martins stopped short of confirming that report, but he did make it clear that he’s pleased with the job that Hennigan has done since the team hired him in 2012. The previous terms of the GM’s contract took the pact through 2015/16, and Martins was wary of having such a key executive on an expiring deal, as Robbins detailed in his initial story on the team’s desire for an extension.
“Under the leadership of Rob, we feel that we are positioning ourselves to be able to contend in a long-term, sustainable fashion,” Martins said in the team’s statement. “We are proud of the work that Rob and our basketball operations department has done to this point and we look forward to taking the next steps in the process.
The feeling around the league earlier this month was that the Magic’s intention to extend Hennigan’s deal was a clear signal to candidates for the team’s coaching vacancy that they wouldn’t get personnel control, as Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher said. The Magic picked up team options for 2015/16 on Hennigan and former coach Jacque Vaughn last spring but fired Vaughn in February, forcing the coach and not the GM to face the ultimate consequences for the team’s failure to show significant improvement over the past three seasons. The team hired both Hennigan and Vaughn in the 2012 offseason and has gone 68-178 since, topping out at just 25 wins this past season.
Hennigan made what’s likely the most significant move of his tenure shortly after taking the job, when he traded Dwight Howard to the Lakers in August 2012 for a package that included three first-round picks and Nikola Vucevic, who blossomed in Orlando. The Magic and Hennigan signed Vucevic to a four-year, $48MM extension that includes incentives, and though Vucevic hasn’t matched the production of Howard, particularly defensively, he has nonetheless become more than a capable starting center. Hennigan also received Arron Afflalo in that trade, flipping him after he led the team in scoring last season for the much cheaper Evan Fournier, who’s performed a lot better in Orlando than he did in Denver.
The Magic now seek an experienced coach to pair with Hennigan and face key decisions in the offseason. Forward Tobias Harris, the jewel of the 2013 J.J. Redick trade, is set to become a restricted free agent, and Orlando is in line for another high lottery pick, with a better chance of drafting sixth than in any other spot in the first-round order, as our lottery odds table shows.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.