Kevin Durant‘s decision to use the Magic as an example of a bad NBA organization reflects the team’s reputation around the league, writes Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel. Railing at suggestions that he helped create competitive imbalance, Durant started his response with, “Like I’m the reason why [expletive] Orlando couldn’t make the playoffs for five, six years in a row?” Robbins notes that new president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman and new GM John Hammond will have to overcome that perception before they can attract top-level free agents. Orlando has inherent advantages with a warm climate and no state income tax, but most elite free agents prioritize winning, and that’s something the Magic can’t offer right now.
There’s more from the Southeast Division:
- Magic CEO Alex Martins insisted that candidates for the newly filled front office positions be willing to work with coach Frank Vogel, relays John Denton of NBA.com. There were rumors during the season that Vogel might be in jeopardy as he led Orlando to a 29-53 record in his first year on the job. But the moves made since the season ended show that blame for the disappointing year fell on the front office rather than the coaching staff. Weltman says he admires Vogel’s coaching ability, and Vogel welcomes the change at the top. “These are very well-respected basketball men who have done a good job and who, quite frankly, know what they are doing and what they are talking about,’’ Vogel said. “I’m excited about the coming weeks, the meetings that we’re going to have and getting to know these guys.’’
- Willie Reed has a strong desire to stay in Miami, but financial realities might prevent that, according to Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Reed had his first impactful NBA season this year as a member of the Heat, playing 71 games and averaging 5.3 points and 4.7 rebounds per night. He faces a June 29th deadline to decide on a $1.577MM option for next season and may elect to chase his first-big money deal at age 27. Reed is still working out with the team, but says there have been no discussions with management about his contract status. “We spoke just about how a good season it was and how I progressed and have grown,” he said. “But there haven’t been talks about anything else yet, kind of just coming in here and just working out, making sure they see you and let them know that I love being here and I want it to work out.”
- After 10 straight playoff seasons, the Hawks need to decide on a direction for their future, writes Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders. He notes that Atlanta has limited options heading into the summer because the team’s best trade assets, Paul Millsap and Tim Hardaway Jr., are both free agents, and last year’s big signees, Kent Bazemore and Dwight Howard, have experienced declines in their market value.