Alex Martins

Magic Hire Tracy McGrady As Special Assistant To CEO

Former Magic star Tracy McGrady is rejoining the franchise in a front office role, reports Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel. According to Robbins, McGrady will serve as a special assistant to Orlando CEO Alex Martins.

A Florida native, McGrady enjoyed some of his best seasons as a player in Orlando between 2000 and 2004, earning spots in four consecutive All-Star games and leading the league in scoring twice as a member of the Magic. Now, the Hall-of-Famer’s duties will include helping to promote and market Orlando’s new G League affiliate, the Lakeland Magic, Robbins writes.

In addition to working with the Magic’s G League team, McGrady is expected to work occasionally with Magic players and coaches on and off the court, and may even get involved in recruiting free agents, according to Robbins.

McGrady’s return to the Magic comes 13 years after he parted with the franchise on “strained terms,” as Robbins puts it. It also coincides with the first year for Orlando’s new management group, which includes president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman and general manager John Hammond. The duo was hired earlier this year after the Magic parted ways with GM Rob Hennigan.

Southeast Notes: Magic, Vogel, Reed, Hawks

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.

Magic Interviewing Candidates For Team President

The Magic have held their first interviews in their quest for a new president of basketball operations, writes Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel.

CEO Alex Martins said the team’s plan is to hire a president, who will then select a GM. He confirmed that a few candidates have interviewed, but refused to provide any names, adding that the process could be lengthy.

“As we’ve said from the outset, we don’t expect a quick decision or a quick resolution due to the fact that there are some executives involved in the playoffs that we’re interested in speaking to and most likely we will not be granted permission [to speak with them] until those teams have been eliminated from the playoffs,” Martins said. “In light of that, we’re moving along well, and we’ve been going through our process. And we will not conclude it until we have the opportunity to speak to those individuals.”

One of those executives involved in the playoffs is Cavaliers GM David Griffin, who is believed to be at the top of Orlando’s wish list. A weekend report from Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com said the Magic haven’t yet requested permission to speak to Griffin, whose contract with the defending champs will expire this summer.

Former Celtics star, Timberwolves executive and Rockets coach Kevin McHale has also been mentioned as a prominent candidate.

Orlando, which has strung together five straight losing seasons, fired GM Rob Hennigan and assistant GM Scott Perry after the season ended. Matt Lloyd is serving as assistant GM and is considered a candidate to keep that position.

Magic Have Interest In Cavs GM David Griffin

Having dismissed Rob Hennigan after the end of the regular season last week, the Magic are on the lookout for a new general manager, and one executive receiving interest from Orlando is the architect of the defending champions. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, the Magic have interest in Cavaliers GM David Griffin. Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders had mentioned Griffin earlier this week as a potential target for Orlando.

[RELATED: Magic fire GM Rob Hennigan]

While the Magic have several candidates on their list of possible replacements for Hennigan, the idea of hiring Griffin intrigues president Alex Martins and the Magic front office, sources tell Wojnarowski. Griffin’s contract with the Cavaliers expires at season’s end, and an extension isn’t necessarily a lock for the GM whose roster won the 2016 NBA championship.

According to Wojnarowski, talks between Cavaliers ownership and Griffin have been “stalled for months,” and there’s an increasing belief around the NBA that Griffin could be lured away from Cleveland. Cavs owner Dan Gilbert has been reluctant thus far to offer Griffin a contract on par with other championship-level executives around the league, sources tell Wojnarowski.

If the Magic do intend to seriously pursue Griffin, their search likely won’t be a quick one, since they’ll have to wait until the end of the Cavs’ playoff run to gauge Griffin’s interest in the job. In the meantime, the team is using Jed Hughes of the Korn Ferry search firm to gather information, while Martins has also been “significantly engaged” in identifying and vetting GM candidates, sources tell Wojnarowski.

As the Magic conduct their GM search, Matt Lloyd has been serving as the interim GM. Wojnarowski hears from GMs around the NBA that Lloyd is so well-respected by front office executives that those execs have been reluctant to make recommendations to the Magic, since they’re hoping Lloyd gets a chance at the full-time job.

Orlando has enough confidence in Lloyd, who is a candidate for the permanent job, that the team is willing to extend the search process and wait out the Cavs even if they make it to the NBA Finals, Wojnarowski writes. That would give Lloyd the opportunity to map out a plan for the draft and free agency.

Magic Notes: Skiles, Hennigan, Vogel, GM Search

In the wake of Magic GM Rob Hennigan’s firing on Thursday, CEO Alex Martins admits that former coach Scott Skiles may have been correct in their much-publicized feud, writes Mike Bianchi of The Orlando Sentinel. Skiles resigned last May after one year as coach because of repeated disagreements with Hennigan. Skiles didn’t like the roster that had been assembled and he thought the front office was undermining the coaching staff by coddling young players. Martins acknowledges that Skiles had a point, but wishes he hadn’t left the organization. “There were things Scott could have done better and one of them is that he could have been more patient,” Martins said. “We were clearly having those conversations [about the culture] and working toward solutions, but Scott didn’t want to be patient about it.”

There’s more news out of Orlando:

  • Head coach Frank Vogel hopes the new GM will try to build a contender around the talent that’s already on the roster, relays John Denton of NBA.com. Orlando has the NBA’s second-worst record over the past five years, and Vogel thinks fans have waited long enough for a winner. “I think our mindset is to win now and I’m hopeful that whoever we bring in here shares that approach,’’ Vogel said. “I think our fans have endured enough losing and it’s time to get this thing into the playoffs as quickly as we can. That’s my mindset.’’
  • The playoffs will have a role in determining how soon the Magic hire Hennigan’s replacement, Denton adds in the same story. Some of the candidates that Orlando has in mind can’t be contacted while their teams are still active. “The factor that is going to dictate [the pace of the search] is that there are some individuals that we’re interested in who [have teams that] are playing in the NBA playoffs and we’re not going to be able to talk to them until their teams are eliminated,’’ Martins said. “And I think it’s in our best interests to identify the right individual and talk to those who are involved in the playoffs. That’s what is going to dictate the majority of the timeframe.” Interim GM Matt Lloyd will handle draft preparation and other organizational moves until a new GM is hired.
  • Martins doesn’t want one person to serve as coach and president of basketball operations, tweets Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel. There were rumors recently that the Magic might have interest in bringing back Doc Rivers in a dual role.

Magic Will Evaluate Hennigan After The Season

The Magic won’t make a decision on the fate of GM Rob Hennigan until after the season, according to Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel.

Orlando CEO Alex Martins said Saturday that Hennigan’s job isn’t in immediate danger despite a disappointing season. The team has fallen to 14th in the East with a 20-36 record and has lost 17 of its last 22 games.

“We don’t evaluate any of our individuals in midseason,” Martins said. “Traditionally, we do that in a very comprehensive fashion at the end of each season, and this season is no different.” 

Robbins notes that Martins made a similar statement in 2012 about GM Otis Smith and coach Stan Van Gundy, who were both let go after the season ended.

Now in his fifth year as GM, Hennigan made a flurry of moves this summer that he hoped would lift the franchise back into playoff contention. He shipped Victor Oladipo to Oklahoma City in exchange for Serge Ibaka and gave free agent center Bismack Biyombo $70MM over four years. The GM also added experience to the bench with the signings of Jeff Green and D.J. Augustin and made a coaching change, hiring Frank Vogel to replace Scott Skiles.

Magic Notes: Skiles, Hennigan, Draft

Magic CEO Alex Martins said he tried to talk Scott Skiles into staying Thursday morning, when the coach resigned instead, tweets Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel. The DeVos family, who own the Magic, and Martins are backers of Skiles, USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt notes, wondering whether GM Rob Hennigan was truly in charge of the decision to hire Skiles a year ago, despite the GM’s assertion Thursday that he was.

See more from Orlando after a surprising turn of events:

  • No coach can turn around the Magic if they don’t have a star player, Schmitz opines, believing the pressure falls on Hennigan to upgrade the roster as the team embarks on its third coaching search in Hennigan’s four-year tenure. The Sentinel’s Mike Bianchi concurs, calling Skiles’ hasty exit one of the darkest days in franchise history, given the coach’s longstanding ties to the team.
  • One Magic player said Skiles seemed “miserable” in the last few months of the season, and the coach has grown increasingly weary with the attitudes of NBA players, as The Vertical’s Chris Mannix hears. Ultimately, the coach’s resignation underscores the need for a tight bond between NBA coaches and front offices, Mannix believes.
  • Michigan State swingman Denzel Valentine and forward/center Deyonta Davis, Marquette power forward Henry Ellenson and Canadian prep school power forward Thon Maker are among the draft prospects the Magic have interviewed at this week’s combine, The Sentinel’s Josh Robbins reports.

Southeast Notes: Skiles, Felder, Swanigan, Chriss

Already fired three times in his NBA coaching career, Orlando resident Scott Skiles was concerned how it might impact his family if he met that fate with the Magic, says Adrian Wojnarowski in a video on The Vertical. Wojnarowski reports that some officials in the Magic organization were “livid” after Skiles announced his decision to resign from his post today after one season of a four-year contract. Others were relieved, saying “every day was a battle” with Skiles, who became less enamored with his roster as time went on.

Skiles was never a fan of point guard Elfrid Payton, according to Wojnarowski, which put him at odds with GM Rob Hennigan. Ownership and Magic CEO Alex Martins pushed hard to hire Skiles last summer in an effort to bring more discipline to the team, but he and Hennigan never meshed and their partnership was strained to the end.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • The Magic have interviewed Kay Felder, a junior point guard out of Oakland, tweets Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Felder, who turned heads with his 44-inch vertical jump, said, “I never tested because I always felt I was a great leaper.” (Twitter link).
  • Purdue freshman power forward Caleb Swanigan plans a workout with the Hawks for after the combine, writes Nathan Baird of The Lafayette Journal & Courier. Swanigan suffered an injury to his left calf last week in a session with the Spurs and had to cancel workouts with other teams. He said he’s still deciding whether to stay in the draft or return to school. “If an NBA team tells me they think I have an opportunity to come and help their organization in the next few years, even if it’s not right away but it’s going to be soon and they have a vision for me, than I think that’s where I’ll go,” Swanigan said.
  • The Hawks met with Washington freshman power forward Marquese Chriss, according to Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link).
  • Connecticut sophomore shooting guard Daniel Hamilton interviewed with the Hornets and expressed a desire to play with UConn alum Kemba Walker, tweets Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer.

Odds & Ends: Rockets, McLemore, Horford

The future looks very bright for the Rockets, and Jonathan Feigen of Ultimate Rockets hears from GM Daryl Morey that the organization is set on building around the current core of players: “We’re very excited about the foundation…We were careful to make sure all the key pieces could stay. People are going to see mostly the same team back next year because of that." Considering that they're a young team that pushed the Thunder to six games after being down three games to none – along with the emergence of Patrick Beverley - it's difficult to disagree with the optimism in Houston. Here are a few more miscellaneous links we've gathered up tonight: 
  • Eric Prisbell of USA Today reports that NBA draft hopeful Ben McLemore's AAU coach received cash and other benefits in order to help influence the former Kansas Jayhawk to leave college after one season and declare for the draft. 
  • Hoopsworld's Steve Kyler tweets that Al Horford is a player that the Hawks would like to keep rather than trade as the team handles a roster that could be in heavy flux. 
  • Kyler also says that the front runners to sign Josh Smith this summer will be the teams that miss out on Dwight Howard (Twitter link). 
  • Magic CEO Alex Martins doesn't foresee a long rebuilding period in Orlando and is confident that the team can return to title contention in the near future (John Denton of Magic.com). 
  • Hawks GM Danny Ferry feels that the 2012-13 season was a very significant year in terms of taking the initial steps toward becoming a contender and likes the flexibility that his team has moving forward (ESPN via the Associated Press). 
  • Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group looks back on the 10 most important moves the Warriors made to build the team that starts the second round Sunday against the Spurs.
  • According to a report from Sportando, Leones de Ponce of Baloncesto Superior Nacional in Puerto Rico have released Garret Siler and replaced him with Mike Harris

Chuck Myron of Hoops Rumors contributed to this post. 

Southeast Rumors: Magic, Wizards, Sichting

Orlando is once again the center of the NBA universe as the Magic are reportedly working on yet another Dwight Howard trade. Sam Amick of SI.com provided an update earlier on the talks, and in his story he passed along a few comments from Magic CEO Alex Martins on how the team will proceed with Howard. 

"We have very specific goals as to what we would hope to achieve if we were to trade Dwight, OK?" Martins said. "We acknowledge and are realistic about the fact that you're never going to get equal value in return for Dwight Howard. But if we were to trade him, we have three primary goals that we're trying to achieve and in the end, any deal that's proposed to us I think we've been very clear about the fact about the goals of what we're trying to achieve."

Martins didn't specify what the three goals are, but said the team hasn't delineated from its plan, and added that the ability to acquire "the right combination of pieces" in return for Howard will determine whether they make a deal. We've got more on the Magic and the rest of the Southeast Division here:

  • The Wizards have hired Jerry Sichting as an assistant coach, the team reports on its website. Sichting has 24 years of NBA experience as a player, assistant coach, and front office executive, but spent last season coaching Martinsville High School, his alma mater, in Indiana.
  • Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News tweets that Harold Ellis, director of pro personnel for the Pistons, is jumping to the Magic to work in a similar capacity. He follows Scott Perry, who left the Pistons in June to become Orlando's assistant GM.
  • Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com doesn't think the latest Howard deal makes sense for the Magic (Twitter link). Andy Kamenetzky of ESPNLosAngeles.com also looks at what each side might get in the deal, and believes the Sixers are the only team that would benefit. The deal remains fluid, though, and some of the players currently said to be part of the deal may not be included.
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