Over the next few weeks Orlando Magic Daily will be taking a look at the things that went right and wrong this season as Orlando ended its season with its first Lottery season in six years.
When Rob Hennigan took over the job as general manager of the Orlando Magic a little more than a year ago, he had a lot on his plate.
There was still a discontent superstar with an uncertain future demanding a trade as his team lost leverage with each passing minute. Hennigan put his staff in place, reorganized the Magic's front office and hired an inexperienced coach to lead what would become a development movement.
Hennigan had little time and little leverage to make a Dwight Howard deal happen. Howard was calling the shots and demanded — more or less — Brooklyn, Los Angeles or bust. It was seemingly clear he would not be returning to Orlando.
Then Hennigan pulled the trigger on the trade that likely will define him as a general manager and make or break his tenure with Orlando in many ways. He had to tear the whole thing down and give the Magic the best chance to build back up to create the "sustainability" the franchise wants so desperately.
The 30-year-old first-time general manager was almost universally panned for trading Dwight Howard, Earl Clark, Chris Duhon and Jason Richardson to the Lakers and Sixers for Nikola Vucevic, Arron Afflalo, Maurice Harkless and Al Harrington plus a group of future picks that have some complex protections and conditions on them.
The move, at the time, seemed like a bad one. Orlando elected not to receive either of the two All Stars involved in the trade — Andrew Bynum went to Philadelphia while Andre Iguodala went to Denver — and did not press for Pau Gasol from the Lakers to replace Howard in the middle. For those expecting the Magic to continue competing in the 2013 season, it was a big loss.
That would have been extremely short-sighted though. The kind of move that has gotten the Magic into trouble in the past. Instead, Hennigan was taking a long-term look and staying true to his "process" and instilling the values he wanted to instill in the organization.
The Magic are thinking long term and so evaluation of Hennigan will have to wait. The trade the setn Dwight Howard out of Orlando can't be properly evaluated yet.
However, after all the criticism Hennigan took for not bringing back a star in the deal, he looks like the one who came out ahead.
Nikola Vucevic was surprisingly effective when given more playing time, turning into a consistent double double player and finishing second in the league in rebounding. Maurice Harkless broke through in the latter half of the season. Those are two big pieces from the Dwight Howard trade that could play into the franchise's future.
Then Hennigan pulled off an in-season trade that was difficult to accept for the fan base, but brought in another quality young player that could have a future with the organization.
The J.J. Redick trade was a difficult one to do, but Tobias Harris' strong close to the season brought a lot more optimism in the young players on the roster.
Are they franchise cornerstones? That is a question that is perhaps too early to be answered. But the fact Hennigan has been able consistently to evaluate and discover talent where others have not is a good sign for his first year.
Even with the rocky start by public perception, fans have turned and trust Hennigan completely it seems. Yes, it is just his first season and he still has a lot of work to do to get the Magic where they need to go.
However, this season proved to be a great start for the rookie general manager.