Hennigan Talks Orlando Magic
Orlando Magic general manager Rob Hennigan opened up in a wide-ranging Q&A with the Orlando Sentinel’s Josh Robbins about the state of the team, his views on how the season has played out and some areas of focus going forward.
“I think it’s fair to say that we’re struggling,” Hennigan conceded to the Sentinel. “I think it’s fair to say that we’re not where we want to be, and that’s the bottom line. So, I think a lot of reasons contribute to the performance the team has displayed over the course of the season. I’m not sure we can pinpoint it to one area. But certainly, we’re all aware of the fact that we’re struggling and we’re not where we want to be, and we need to aggressively look to continue to improve the team.”
The Magic are currently 18-28 on the season and have lost eight of their last 10 games, putting them four-and-a-half games out of the eighth seed in the East. The Magic have been one of the common names in NBA trade circles, something Hennigan admitted his team was aggressively exploring.
“We need to explore every and all options to improve the team,” Hennigan said. “We’re going to be aggressive. We’re going to be active in our discussions and in the opportunities we seek out. So, we’re going to look to be active. I’m not sure it’s a “necessity,” but it’s certainly something that’s in our best interests to explore.”
The Magic have struggled all season to keep pace on the offensive end of the floor, and that is an area Hennigan said likely has to be addressed.
“As we continue to build the team, we certainly need to keep in mind the trends of the NBA,” Hennigan said. “We built this team to be a defensive-minded team. And we also built this team to have the flexibility to play multiple ways. And while that hasn’t necessarily manifested itself throughout the season, we feel like our vision and our philosophy now and going forward will be to construct a team that can play big, that can play small and vary from opponent to opponent.”
“I think certainly — absent an elite player that becomes available — we need to continue to try to add more shooting and shot-making and basketball I.Q. to the team wherever we can find it. But we need to continue to place an emphasis on rim protection as well because of the way the game’s officiated nowadays.”
The Magic have also been linked to rumors regarding the future of Serge Ibaka, whom the Magic acquired on draft night in 2016 in a deal that sent out guard Victor Oladipo, the rights to the 10th selection and forward Ersan Ilyasova.
“We value Serge a great deal,” Hennigan said. “He’s been really good for us, and he’s certainly someone that we hope is in our future.
“We have to go into the trade deadline looking to improve the team by any means necessary. So, we’re not in a position with our team right now to not explore and listen to any ideas or concepts that come our way or that we inquire about. So, the goal’s to improve the team any way we can.”
Despite the huge price tag the Magic paid to acquire Ibaka, Hennigan said the team has to be open-minded on change.
“Our job is to be aggressive and looking for ways to improve the team,” Hennigan said. “Our job is to be aggressive and looking for ways to take calculated risks to improve the team, and that will continue to be our approach because the bottom line is we need to get better, and we’re not where we want to be.”
Hennigan was asked if he regretted some of the decision made along the way, namely opting not to keep highly productive veterans like J.J. Redick or Ryan Anderson.
“I think there’s always, as there should be, reflection on decisions you’ve made in the past,” Hennigan said. “And there’s always sort of a Monday-morning quarterback component to every decision. And so, I think as we and as I personally have looked back, the goal is to be an elite team and to be a championship-caliber team. That remains our goal.
“I’m not convinced that had we taken a different approach we would be in a much different place. I think the approach we took was the right approach. I think while we’re probably a little behind in where we thought we’d be, we’re still really excited about the growth potential of our young players on our team. We’re excited about the opportunities and the resources we have to continue to improve the team through free agency and trades and draft picks. That’s a tough question, but it’s certainly something we’ve thought about.”
Hennigan talked about a much larger range of topics than the ones discussed above, make sure to check out the full Q&A at the Orlando Sentinel here.
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