Orlando Magic Rumors: Early list of coaching candidates emerge

Jan 17, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Phoenix Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek in the first quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 17, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Phoenix Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek in the first quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports /

The Orlando Magic are still getting over the shock of Scott Skiles‘ sudden departure and developing a list of candidates. The rumor mill has begun to churn.

The Orlando Magic were involuntarily forced onto the coaching carousel Thursday with the surprise resignation of Scott Skiles. And so they will begin a coaching search immediately for the second time in two offseasons.

The same parameters seem to be in place as there were last year. The Magic are looking to make the Playoffs this year — perhaps with a few more exclamation points than last season. The team fell short of that goal this year.

And instead of building with the same coach, the team will have to entrust the next stage of the rebuild in a new coach.

“I think there is certainly a sense of urgency to make sure we find a coach as soon as possible and make sure he is the right coach,” Magic general manager Rob Hennigan said. “I will tell you however months Scott and I worked together, Scott is very principled and I respect that about him. He’s honest, up front and straightforward. We’re going to miss Scott Skiles.”

But the team has to move forward.

As of Thursday’s press conference, Hennigan said he had not been in touch with any coaching candidates. The Magic were still formulating their criteria. Hennigan simply said they are “looking for the best guy for the team.” Obviously it was still a bit of shock Thursday.

There was not much thought to who the team might contact or what they might be looking for other than something resembling staying the course.

“I think the criteria we are still developing that,” Hennigan said. “The nuts and bolts are probably consistent. We want someone who will continue to push us forward; place an emphasis on the defensive end of the floor; figure out a way to continue developing our players; and, as we continue to add pieces, assemble a highly competitive team. Quite honestly, we feel like we are not that far away from being competitive for a really long time.”

The early coaching list though did begin to form around the team in the vacuum that is the NBA rumor mill.

Ken Berger of CBS Sports reports former Phoenix Suns coach Jeff Hornacek has emerged on the Magic’s short list of potential candidates. Hornacek interviewed for the Magic job when they hired Jacque Vaughn, but apparently thought very highly of Hornacek. He went 101-112 in three seasons with the Phoenix Suns.

The other candidates on the list according to Berger are the familiar names too. Former Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel is on that list. Vogel is undoubtedly the top coach remaining on the market.

Former Magic interim coach and current Spurs assistant James Borrego is also on the list according to Berger. That would be an interesting decision considering the Magic opted to select Skiles over Borrego just a summer ago.

Berger also reports the Magic would consider former Stan Van Gundy assistant coach Patrick Ewing and current Magic assistant coach Adrian Griffin. Both Ewing and Griffin have interviewed for head coaching jobs in the past, but neither has had a head coaching job yet.

The Magic will have a lot of options ahead of them. And their biggest selling point remains the promise of the roster.

“I think we have a great situation here,” Hennigan said. “We have a great group of guys. We have a young team. We have guys who are willing to work and want to be pushed and want to be coached. We think the future is really bright here. We won 10 more games than we won the season before. That’s not insignificant improvement. Our goal is to make the playoffs and make the Playoffs immediately. That’s what we’re geared to do. I see our situation as being incredibly attractive.”

Now the coaching search begins in earnest.