Rob Hennigan

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 Rumors: G. Hill, Wright, Cousins, Hennigan

Shortly after the Magic fired general manager Rob Hennigan this morning, Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel reported that team officials have interest in pursuing Grant Hill as a potential president of basketball operations. Marc Stein of ESPN.com confirms Orlando’s interest in Hill, but tweets that the former Magic forward currently has no plans to leave the Hawks‘ ownership group.

As we wait to see if Hill’s stance changes, here are several more Magic-related notes, with a focus on today’s front office shakeup:

  • Spurs assistant GM Brian Wright is on the Magic‘s preliminary list of potential GM candidates, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. Wojnarowski also notes that the leaked white board that went viral last week ultimately didn’t affect Orlando’s decision to replace Hennigan — the team had already decided to move on from him at that point.
  • Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated and Sam Amick of USA Today expressed surprise that the Magic dismissed assistant GM Scott Perry along with Hennigan (Twitter links). Both reporters note that the two men had different voices in the front office, suggesting that Perry would have likely been able to complete a trade for DeMarcus Cousins if Hennigan had been on board with it.
  • Although Hennigan didn’t have a ton of success in Orlando, he remains widely respected around the NBA and will likely have “attractive offers” to choose from when he looks for a new job, tweets Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com.
  • In non-Hennigan news, the Magic‘s D-League affiliate, which will begin play next season, will be called the Lakeland Magic, as Robbins details for The Sentinel.

Magic Fire GM Rob Hennigan

With their offseason now underway, the Magic have started making changes in their front office, firing general manager Rob Hennigan, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (via Twitter). The team also dismissed assistant GM Scott Perry, according to Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel (Twitter link).Rob Hennigan vertical

“We appreciate Rob’s efforts to rebuild the team, but feel we have not made any discernible improvement over the last few years specifically,” Magic CEO Alex Martins said in a statement. “It’s time for different leadership in basketball operations.  We certainly wish Rob and his family well.”

Hennigan was considered to be on the hot seat for much of this season, as his flurry of moves a year ago failed to lead to tangible on-court improvement for the Magic. An eventful 2016 offseason saw Orlando trade for Serge Ibaka, then sign Bismack Biyombo, D.J. Augustin, and Jeff Green in free agency.

The franchise had playoff aspirations to start the year, but lost its opener to the Heat, and never got back above .500. Orlando’s spot in the standings prompted the team to flip Ibaka to the Raptors before February’s trade deadline, and Hennigan and the front office were widely criticized for giving up far more for Ibaka last summer than they got back for him at the deadline.

Hennigan’s seat likely became hotter in recent weeks after a photo taken by Patricio Garino‘s agent that showed an apparent list of Orlando’s offseason targets on a dry-erase board went viral. Hennigan insisted that the leaked white board wasn’t indicative of the Magic’s summer plans, and that it was just a list of possible options for the team, but it wasn’t a great look for a management group that was already under fire.

2016/17 was the fifth straight season that the Magic finished with a losing record, dating back to 2012/13, Hennigan’s first year at the helm. During Hennigan’s five years as Orlando’s GM, the team posted a 132-278 record (.322). The club has employed four different head coaches during that time, never winning more than 35 games in a season or earning a spot in the playoffs.

With Hennigan no longer in the mix in Orlando, the Magic have named Matt Lloyd as the interim general manager, the club confirmed (via Twitter). Lloyd will be in the mix for the permanent job, though he won’t be the only candidate considered.

According to Robbins, Magic officials have interest in Grant Hill as a potential president of basketball operations. Robbins adds that Pistons associate GM Pat Garrity and Warriors assistant GM Travis Schlenk could also be among the executives targeted by Orlando.

There were rumblings earlier this year that Doc Rivers could consider jumping to the Magic in a head coach/president of basketball operations role, but that seems like a long shot — Rivers dismissed the idea at the time. For now, Frank Vogel remains the head coach in Orlando, and he just finished the first year of a four-year contract, so a new GM may be reluctant to make a change unless the Magic are willing to eat a significant chunk of money.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Hennigan: Leaked Board “Not Indicative” Of Magic’s Plans

The agent for newly-signed Magic swingman Patricio Garino created a stir this week when he tweeted out a photo of his client signing a contract with Orlando. The seemingly innocuous photo, which has since been deleted, went viral because of what showed up in the background behind Garino: A dry-erase board that listed apparent free agent and trade targets for the Magic.

Asked by Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel for a comment on the board, Magic general manager Rob Hennigan said the lists are “not indicative of plans” and are “simply listing options, including some which other teams have inquired about.”

The lists of players includes three visible headings: “Hybrid Trade,” “Hybrid Free Agency,” and “Spread Bigs Trade.” The first two columns list players capable of playing multiple positions, while the latter column focuses on big men who can shoot from outside. A fourth column appears to list “spread bigs” available in free agency, though it’s partially cut off.

Wilson Chandler, Justise Winslow, and Tobias Harris are among the many names on the “Hybrid Trade” list, with Danilo Gallinari, Paul Millsap, and Otto Porter among the names on the “Hybrid Free Agency” list. The “Spread Bigs Trade” column features names like Nikola Mirotic, Chandler Parsons, and many others.

One of the more interesting items under the “Hybrid Trade” column on the Magic’s board is a mention of Dario Saric with “For AG?” noted in parentheses. “AG” likely refers to Magic power forward Aaron Gordon, so it’s possible Hennigan’s claim that the board includes notes on players other teams have inquired about was meant to explain this item. However, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer tweets that the Sixers have never discussed sending Saric to the Magic or any other team.

Ultimately, the leak doesn’t seem overly consequential — the NBA’s other 29 teams likely have similar lists of potential offseason targets. Still, it’s not a great look for a front office that is already under fire. If Hennigan – who is said to be on the hot seat – is replaced after the season, the club could head into the summer with a new management group and a new big board in place.

Front Office Shakeups Ahead?

Disappointing seasons could lead to front office changes for at least five teams this summer, writes Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders.

The most obvious team headed for a shakeup is Sacramento, which reportedly wants to position someone above GM Vlade Divac and may have interest in former Sixers GM Sam Hinkie, despite an official statement denying it. There are also ongoing rumors of a rift between Vivek Ranadive and the minority ownership, which has grown frustrated with the way the team has been managed.

Kyler notes that Ken Catanella was hired as an assistant GM last summer, but wasn’t given the power that many expected him to have.

Change may also be coming to these organizations:

  • Orlando — The Magic seem ready to replace GM Rob Hennigan, with Pistons executive and former Orlando player Pat Garrity as the leading candidate to be offered the job. The Magic had hoped to be playoff contenders after signing Bismack Biyombo and trading for Serge Ibaka, but the new combination never worked out. Orlando is 14th in the East at 27-47, and Ibaka was shipped to Toronto last month. Kyler cites league sources who say several of the Magic’s lower level executives are expecting changes and have started contacting other organizations.
  • New Orleans — A recent report said coach Alvin Gentry and GM Dell Demps could both be fired without significant progress by the end of the season. Demps may have bought himself more timee with the DeMarcus Cousins trade, but the Pelicans have reached the playoffs just twice during his seven years at the helm. Louisiana native Joe Dumars is close to ownership and is reportedly being considered as a replacement.
  • Phoenix — The Suns will miss the playoffs for the seventh consecutive year, and many believe that owner Robert Sarver wants to turn things around quickly. Ryan McDonough has amassed an impressive group of young talent in his four years as GM, but that may not be enough to convince Sarver to keep him.
  • Atlanta — It’s unlikely that coach/executive Mike Budenholzer or GM Wes Wilcox gets replaced, but several staff additions are expected. The Hawks have been shaken by the loss of free agent Al Horford last season and the possible exit of Paul Millsap this summer, along with a late-season losing streak that may knock them out of the playoffs. More voices may be brought on to help Budenholzer and Wilcox with the decision-making process.

Magic GM Rob Hennigan’s Job In Jeopardy

After writing over the weekend that there has been chatter around the NBA about the possibility of Doc Rivers joining Orlando’s front office, Marc Stein of ESPN.com has another report today on Magic management. According to Stein, the Magic are giving “strong consideration” to replacing general manager Rob Hennigan, whose job is in danger.

[RELATED: Doc Rivers insists he has “no future” with Magic]

As Stein notes, Hennigan is under contract with the Magic for one more year, through the 2017/18 season. However, the GM currently “finds himself under as much pressure as any executive in the league,” per Stein.

The fact that Hennigan is on the hot seat doesn’t come as a real surprise. The GM himself acknowledged last month that criticism of him and Orlando’s front office was “warranted,” given the club’s performance this season. “Our fans, quite frankly, deserve to be upset and deserve to be frustrated,” Hennigan said at the time. “I think the proverbial hot seat comes with the territory.”

An eventful 2016 offseason saw the Magic trade for Serge Ibaka, then sign Bismack Biyombo, D.J. Augustin, and Jeff Green in free agency. The franchise had playoff aspirations to start the year, but lost its opener to the Heat, and never got back above .500. Orlando’s spot in the lottery prompted the team to flip Ibaka to the Raptors before the trade deadline, and Hennigan and the front office were widely criticized for giving up far more for Ibaka last summer than they got back for him in February.

This will be the fifth straight season that the Magic finish with a losing record, dating back to 2012/13, Hennigan’s first year at the helm. Since Hennigan was hired as Orlando’s GM, the team has a 128-270 record (.322). The club has employed four different head coaches during that time, never winning more than 35 games in a season or earning a spot in the playoffs.

Could Doc Rivers Be Headed To Orlando?

6:03pm: Rivers is trying to quell rumors that he might go to Orlando, tweets Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Speaking with reporters before tonight’s game, Rivers insisted that he has “no future” with the Magic.

5:15pm: League insiders are discussing the possibility that Clippers coach/executive Doc Rivers could take a similar role in Orlando, writes Marc Stein of ESPN.com.

The theory, according to Stein, starts with the likelihood that Rob Hennigan will be fired as Magic GM at the end of the season. Add in the upcoming free agency for Clippers stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin and there’s a possibility that changes are coming in L.A.

Stein hints that the Clippers could be broken up if they fail to reach the conference finals, something the team hasn’t done in the six years Paul and Griffin have been together. If those changes include a coaching move, then Rivers, whose contract as coach and president of basketball operations runs through 2018/19, would become available for Orlando.

If that scenario happens, it would mark a homecoming for Rivers, who started his coaching career with the Magic in 1999.

It’s not clear if Orlando is ready to dismiss current coach Frank Vogel, who was given a four-year contract last summer. Stein says Hennigan’s trade of Serge Ibaka to Toronto last month was an admission that the roster was overstocked with big men, and it appeared to absolve Vogel of blame for a disappointing season.

If Vogel remains, the Magic will consider former Orlando player Pat Garrity to replace Hennigan. Garrity currently serves as associate GM with the Pistons.

Another possibility for the Clippers, Stein notes, is to request that Rivers give up his front office duties and concentrate on coaching. If that happens, the team may reach out to Bob Whitsitt, a former executive with the SuperSonics and Trail Blazers who has close ties to Clippers owner Steve Ballmer.

Stein also says to watch for the possible departure of L.A. shooting guard J.J. Redick in free agency this summer. Redick complained publicly about the organization this week and may become too expensive for the Clippers to re-sign.

Florida Notes: Ibaka, Ross, Wade, Riley

The Magic are viewing last summer’s trade for Serge Ibaka as a “calculated risk” that didn’t work out, relays Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. To obtain the veteran power forward, Orlando sent Victor Oladipo and Ersan Ilyasova to Oklahoma City, along with the 11th pick in the 2016 draft, which became Domantas Sabonis. Less than a year later, the Magic shipped Ibaka to the Raptors in exchange for Terrence Ross and a pick that will fall toward the end of the first round. Ibaka played 56 games for the Magic, averaging 15.1 points and 6.8 rebounds per night, but the team was just 21-36 with him on the roster.

“I think if you go back in time, you look at what was needed for us in the frontcourt and some of the voids we thought we had on the roster,” explained GM Rob Hennigan. “Then, you balance that with the logjam we had at the two guard at the time with Evan [Fournier] and Victor, we felt like it made sense. Sometimes you have to take a few shots down the field. Sometimes it pans out; sometimes it won’t. I applaud our aggressiveness. I think given the same situation, circumstantially, we would make the same trade. Sometimes, things don’t work out as you plan. I think it’s important to be proactive in trying to rectify that too.”

There’s more NBA news from the Sunshine State:

  • Ross was inactive for tonight’s game, according to a tweet from the Magic. The team wasn’t notified before game time that both players passed their physicals and the deal was finalized, according to Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel (Twitter link).
  • The Heat had been tied to Ibaka in trade rumors, but weren’t interested in trying to top Toronto’s offer, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. They were reluctant to give up much for a player who will be a free agent after the season and who may be older than his listed age of 27. Also, Miami wasn’t able to offer a first-round pick this year because its 2018 first-rounder may be shipped to Phoenix. Winderman notes that Tyler Johnson can block any trade until July and that most of the roster wouldn’t have enticed the Magic. The writer believes Josh Richardson would have been Miami’s best offer.
  • A call from Heat president Pat Riley might have convinced Dwyane Wade to stay in Miami, the Bulls star says in a podcast with Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. Wade opted to sign with Chicago last summer after negotiations with the Heat stalled. “I love Pat and I know he loves me,” Wade said. “The fact that we didn’t talk, that hurt. That was my deciding factor when it came down to the end of the day and he didn’t show he wanted me there. I know the Arison family loved me and wanted me there. I know Spo [coach Erik Spoelstra] wanted me there.”

Magic GM Acknowledges Criticism Is ‘Warranted’

Magic CEO Alex Martins recently told The Orlando Sentinel that Rob Hennigan would be evaluated by the team after this season, adding that the general manager’s job isn’t in immediate danger. However, despite assurances that he’ll at least finish the season with the franchise, Hennigan acknowledged to Mike Bianchi of The Sentinel that his spot on the “hot seat” is understandable.

“First and foremost, the criticism is warranted,” Hennigan said, admitting that the Magic’s 21-36 record is disappointing, following an active offseason. “I don’t know if it’s welcome because no one likes to get criticized, but the job we have and the job we’re trying to do is certainly subject to that. Our fans, quite frankly, deserve to be upset and deserve to be frustrated. … I think the proverbial hot seat comes with the territory.”

Orlando’s 2016 offseason included a blockbuster trade that saw the team acquire Serge Ibaka in exchange for Victor Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis, and Ersan Ilyasova. The Magic followed that move up by signing Bismack Biyombo and Jeff Green in free agency, creating a logjam in a frontcourt that already featured Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon. There were questions at the time about the team’s roster construction, and the skeptics have been proven right thus far.

With the trade deadline just nine days away, the Magic have vowed to be aggressive as they pursue potential deals, though their asking prices are said to be high. Outside of perhaps Gordon and Evan Fournier, it’s hard to imagine any player on Orlando’s roster being unavailable this month, so Hennigan will have some decisions to make as he tries to create some positive momentum for the franchise heading into the summer.

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.

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