The Magic have picked up the option for the 2015-16 season for general manager Rob Hennigan and head coach Jacque Vaughn. The duo is entering the third year of their rebuild of this organization following the Dwight Howard trade and have amassed just 43 wins in two seasons with this young roster.
But that was part of the plan. No one had any illusions this would be a quick fix with the path Hennigan opted to pursue in trying to trade Howard when he took the job. This was going to be a long-term vision for the organization to be competitive “sustainably” as the organization likes to put it. The team has positioned itself to get two high lottery picks the last two years and has amassed plenty of assets in the form of young, promising players they have developed the last two years.
“Rob and Jacque have worked extremely hard in establishing a culture which embodies teamwork, hard work, hunger for success and humility,” Magic CEO Alex Martins said. “With their strategic direction and leadership we feel we are headed in the right direction which will allow us to achieve our goals of contending in a long term sustainable fashion.”
That goal will start to come into sharper focus as the team enters Year Three.
The Draft pick the Magic get this summer is expected to be a foundational piece in which the team can build around and is the whole crux of the rebuild in may ways. It is not a pick the Magic can afford to mess up. And Vaughn will be entrusted with getting the most out of him.
There is also the growing sense that the fans cannot suffer through another losing season. Certainly not another intentional losing season. The Magic have to begin taking that step forward and make wins a priority over development. That appears to be the early expectation as Rob Hennigan told John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com:
“I think we’re on plan and I think we’re moving in the right direction. You know us – we don’t typically like to put a concrete timeline on things. But I do expect to see some improvement next year, we all do. We expect to be playing more meaningful games next year than we did this year. We want to continue to grow, continue to get better and believe in the process. If you ask all of the guys, the coaches and everyone in our organization there’s a true belief and a real conviction in what we’re doing and that can be a powerful thing.”
For now, the Magic are continuing to put their faith in Hennigan and Vaughn. There is no reason two years in not to make this move and pick up these options to avoid a dreaded “lame duck” year.
What these two do in the next two years will determine whether the Magic still see them as part of the long-term plan.