Magic draw in on coaching finalists

AP Photo/DayLifeThe Magic appear to be closing in on a new head coach, and all three of the finalist candidates share many things in common — a defensive mentality from their playing days and a ton of inexperience as a coach.

Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel reports 76ers associate head coach Michael Curry, Suns director of player development Lindsey Hunter and Spurs assistant coach Jacque Vaughn are the three finalists Magic general manager Rob Hennigan has selected for a second round of interviews with Magic CEO Alex Martins. There is no timetable for a final decision.

As Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel noted, none of these names are particular mouthwatering. Brian Shaw and Michael Malone were long considered the favorites but both have since withdrew their names or had their names withdrawn from the coaching search.

Between the three remaining candidates, only one has head coaching experience. That was Michael Curry’s whopping 39-43 stint as the Pistons head man in 2009. He took over a Pistons team reeling from losing Chauncey Billups to a trade and could never manage Allen Iverson sharing the ball with championship players like Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince. It was an odd inter-regnum period that Detroit still has not gotten out of.

It is hard to judge Curry’s entire ability as a head coach from that one season.

Hunter though has no coaching experience (even as an assistant coach) and Vaughn has been on the Spurs staff pretty much since his retirement in 2009. That is not a lot of bench experience among the three.

A pattern though emerges from these three candidates that give us an idea into what Rob Hennigan is thinking for this franchise’s future.

First, it shows that Hennigan is looking for a young coach that can bring some energy to the team and relate to the young players Orlando intends on bringing in. The fact Orlando is not going after a veteran coach or one of the up-and-comers like Shaw or Malone.

AP Photo/DayLifeThe Magic want a coach that can teach and relate to players. One who should not be afraid to grow with his team like Scott Brooks has done with Oklahoma City. For sure, there will be high expectations, but they will not be coming immediately. Orlando wants a coach that will have the patience to let players make mistakes and grow.

Second, it shows that defense will be a priority. Curry, Hunter and Vaughn were all known throughout their playing days as strong defenders. Certainly much more than their offensive abilities.

That is not necessarily a harbinger of a great defense or defensive scheme. But coaches who were defensive aces in their playing careers — and part of some very good teams and defensive teams at that — should be able to help the kind of young players Orlando is looking at develop into strong defensively principled players.

That appears to be the hope.

Finally, these three finalists show that the Magic are not looking for someone to rattle cages. While Vaughn, Curry and Hunter were all great defensive players as pros, they are not really fiery guys. Their personalities are more staid, like Hennigan’s. They are the opposite of Stan Van Gundy.

Certainly there was speculation that Orlando management was upset with Van Gundy for airing the franchise’s dirty laundry late in the season. Having someone that is not going to rock the boat the way Van Gundy often did is probably somethign Orlando is looking for in a coach.

Curry, Hunter and Vaughn are guys that are not going to be looking to ruffle feathers in their first/next coaching jobs. They will stick to the program that Hennigan wants to build. The question is can they? That might be a question better left answered when the hire occurs.

The character of the Magic’s coach though has been revealed in the three finalists for the job.

And, of course, once that finishes up, the work of trading Dwight Howard begins/continues again.

Philip Rossman-Reich

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily