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NBA AM: Magic’s Hunt For A New Executive Underway

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It Is A Process

After five years and not much progress, last week, the Orlando Magic parted ways with general manager Rob Hennigan. In his place, the Magic named assistant general manager Matt Lloyd as acting and interim GM while the team started the process of finding new leadership.

Most of the details surrounding the decision have come out in the media with Magic CEO Alex Martins addressing the topic with newspaper and radio interviews. The gist of the decision was that after five years, the Magic were no further along than when the process started and that Hennigan and company failed to install the kind of culture and accountability the franchise believes is necessary to breed success.

The decision to name Lloyd interim GM was announced as a means to give the Magic time to thoroughly explore the available candidates, some of whom are currently running teams in the postseason. The Magic have reached out to a number of candidates and have something of a working short list, according to sources close to the process.

The Magic job is currently the only opening in the NBA, so it’s created something of a rumor mill of its own, as would-be candidates are trying to understand what’s real and what’s not. The timing was interesting too, as most of the NBA was in Portsmouth Virginia for the Annual Portsmouth Invitational tournament featuring college seniors that are eligible for the 2017 NBA Draft.

Here are some of the things being said about the opening and some of the names being mentioned.

Several weeks ago, Marc Stein of ESPN hinted that the Magic would not only fire Hennigan, but that current Detroit Pistons assistant general manager Pat Garrity might be a favorite to take the spot. That storyline continued last week, with several league executives saying his name was the one that has been mentioned the most in front office circles. It seemed the report on Garrity as a serious candidate was accurate. The belief is the Magic are looking for a president of basketball operations–type of leader and that Garrity could be tapped as the day-to-day GM in that scenario.

The idea of the Magic hiring a proven franchise leader lines up with some of the other names mentioned as well.

There has been talk of Warriors executive Bob Myers, however, the Warriors and Myers extended his contract last summer, increasing his pay and adding more responsibility to his job function. Sources peg poaching Myers from the Warriors as the longest of long shots but admitted that Warriors assistant general manager Travis Schlenk is on the radar and will likely be interviewed.

There has been talk of something of a Frank Vogel reunion with former Pacer executive David Morway being linked to the Magic. Morway was last with the Milwaukee Bucks before exploring the Sacramento Kings front office. It’s believed Morway was well on his way to being the Kings president before the team shifted course and went with Vlade Divac. Morway is a long-time veteran executive, which suits the Magic’s desire for a top-down leader.

Current Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard was also mentioned by league sources in much the same way as Morway. Pritchard is well-thought of in Indiana and does have a history with Vogel. The Magic remain committed to Vogel as their head coach and pairing new leadership to him wouldn’t be the worst decision for a team that’s had a real disconnect between the front office and the coaching staff.

There have been a couple of other higher profile names linked to the Magic that would fit the “need to wait” scenario and those include Toronto general manager Jeff Weltman, Cleveland’s David Griffin (who is in the final year of his contract) and long-time Rockets executive Gersson Rosas.

It’s unclear how serious any of these names are as candidates, especially considering the Cavs will likely do a new deal for Griffin after the season ends and that both Rosas and Weltman are fairly entrenched in their current roles.

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There has been a lot of talk about current Clippers president Doc Rivers making a return to Orlando, where he still maintains his off-season home. However, sources close to that situation said that Rivers addressed the rumors with Clippers owner Steve Ballmer back in March and pledged to stay in his current deal, a deal that pays him north of $11 million per year to skipper the Clippers as coach and team president.

There is always the chance that an ugly or early exit from the postseason could change everything with the Clippers, but the prevailing belief is that nothing is expected to change in L.A.

The narrative on Rivers and the Magic is that the Rivers reunion many of whispered about has more to do with an eventual sale of the Magic at some point in the future, something Rivers apparently has more than a passing interest in, when and if the team is ever put up for sale.

The Magic have set no timeline for hiring their next leader. However, there is a belief that the Magic would like to have something in place well in advance of the 2017 NBA Draft and that some of the work on that front has already taken place.

The 2017 NBA Draft Combine gets underway in Chicago on May 9. Ideally, that is the first real draft event of the season and a likely milestone in the process. Individual workouts and pro-days usually get underway after the Combine, so having a leader in place by May 9 makes the most sense, but is not considered a deal breaker for the right candidate.

The Magic finished the season at 29-53 which was the fifth-worst record in the NBA and gives the team an 8.8 percent chance at landing the top overall pick and a 26.1 percent chance of staying in the fifth spot.

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About Steve Kyler

Steve Kyler

Steve Kyler is the Editor and Publisher of Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA and basketball for the last 17 seasons.