The Orlando Magic announced Thursday morning that they have fired general manager Rob Hennigan after five years with the team.
Under Hennigan’s watch, the Magic posted a 132-278 record, which was the second-worst record in the NBA during that time. The team also announced that assistant general manager Matt Lloyd has been named the interim general manager and will be considered a candidate for the permanent position.
“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.”
Management wasted no time in relieving Hennigan of his duties. The Magic wrapped up the regular season Wednesday night and finished with a 29-53 record on the season. They have missed the playoffs in a franchise-worse five straight seasons and do not appear to be close to returning to the postseason soon.
The team was expected to make a leap this season after a busy offseason filled with trades and multiple free-agent signings. They committed over $100 million into the roster and were fully expected to compete for a playoff spot. Instead, the team was never seriously in the playoff hunt and appear to have taken a step back.
The team’s busy offseason was met with some criticism. Many questioned some of the moves as it appeared as though the front office abandoned their rebuilding plan in order to win now. They traded away a promising young player in Tobias Harris for Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova, a move essentially designed to create cap space.
Then on draft night last year, the Magic traded Victor Oladipo, Ilyasova and the rights to Domantas Sabonis for Serge Ibaka. Acquiring Ibaka was thought to have given the team a veteran leader that could help compete for a playoff spot. The experiment with Ibaka didn’t pan out and he was later traded to the Toronto Raptors for Terrence Ross and a first-round draft pick at this year’s trade deadline.
Now, many are wondering what direction the team will take. Parting ways with Hennigan just a day after the conclusion of the regular season will give the team an opportunity to get to work quickly to name a permanent replacement. Possible candidates to replace Hennigan have yet to surface, but a few names are beginning to emerge.
The team could opt to name a candidate as the president of basketball operations. In that scenario, that person would then hire a general manager to handle the day-to-day operations. They could also decide against hiring a president and hire a lesser-experienced candidate to take over as the permanent general manager.
Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel reported Thursday morning that the team has an interest in hiring former NBA All-Star and former Magic player Grant Hill as president of basketball operations. It’s not yet clear if Hill has an interest in the position, but he would have to divest his small ownership stake with the Atlanta Hawks if he were to take the job.
Robbins also reported that the Magic will consider Detroit Pistons associate general manager and former Magic player Pat Garrity and Golden State Warriors assistant general manager Travis Schlenk for the general manager position. Lloyd will also be in consideration for the position as well.
It appears as though head coach Frank Vogel’s job is safe after the team signed him to a four-year contract last year.
The team will likely look to make a quick decision on hiring a replacement with just over two months until the NBA Draft. The Magic currently hold two picks in the first round and two picks in the second round of the draft.
They’re currently projected to have the No. 5 and No. 26 pick in the first round and the No. 33 and No. 35 pick in the second round with the pre-lottery draft order set as of Wednesday night.
With so much riding on the next few months for the Magic, hitting a home run with this hire is crucial for the franchise to take the next step in their progression.
Given how the last five years have gone, it remains to be seen if that will ultimately happen.
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