A difficult year is behind the Orlando Magic. For the fifth consecutive season they failed to make the playoffs.
During that span, the team had its worst five-year period ever with a record of 132-278. That cost General Manager Rob Hennigan and Assistant General Manager Scott Perry their jobs.
Orlando Coach Frank Vogel can certainly relate to being fired. Just 11 months ago, he was looking for a job after being let go by the Indiana Pacers after his team lost a tough, 7-game playoff series to Bismack Biyombo and the Toronto Raptors. Expectations are a bit higher with the Pacers.
The hopes were reasonably high in Orlando this season. They won 35 games last season and even with first-year Coach Scott Skiles’ departure, the front office thought the playoffs was a reasonable expectation. This year’s final spot in the Eastern Conference went to the 41-41 Chicago Bulls.
Hennigan brought in two high-profile players in Serge Ibaka and Biyombo to get them over the top. We now know that was an abject failure.
While Vogel should be safe for at least another year, one is never certain until the new general manager agrees or CEO Alex Martins says “give Vogel another year.”
During his final interview of the season, Vogel did not shy away from giving thumbs up on the two personnel moves. While both were in the works when Vogel arrived, he voiced support for both, while softly sharing his disappointment for what Orlando gave up.
“Everybody knows my affinity for Victor Oladipo; he was one of the reasons I took the job,” Vogel said. “(His style of play) is how I had success in the past, but even though the league was changing (to a faster pace), I thought that move would be a successful one, but it didn’t turn out that way.”
So now the search is underway for a new general manager and an assistant. The NBA Draft is only two months away, but Martins admits it could be June before a successor is named.
Perhaps the perfect candidate is currently an assistant general manager with one of 16 teams in the playoffs. If that person comes from a team that makes the NBA Finals, that hire could come literally days before the draft begins.
Whomever it turns out to be, Vogel is making a subtle case for keeping him around. In addition to sharing the support he has with team ownership, Vogel made it clear the new boss will find a head coach that wants to be partner with him.
“I’ve got a lot of trust in Alex Martins and the DeVos family,” Vogel said. “They’ve shown me an incredible amount of support and belief in me. I trust he is going to make a great choice in whoever he brings in here. I like to think of myself as easy to work with; I can get along with anyone and hopefully that’s the case with whoever they bring in.”