Orlando Magic answer question about stability

Sep 29, 2014; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic general manager Rob Hennigan talks with media during media day at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 29, 2014; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic general manager Rob Hennigan talks with media during media day at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The Orlando Magic have had four coaches in the past three seasons with the reported hiring of Frank Vogel. Vogel promises to be the one to bring stability.

Even after Scott Skiles had resigned, the question dogged Rob Hennigan. The original sin of his second coaching hire.

Who had the ultimate authority? Was hiring Scott Skiles really your decision?

“It was my decision. One hundred percent was my decision,” Hennigan said during Thursday’s press conference following Skiles’ resignation. The narrative over his decision to ultimately hire Skiles would not go away.

Then he got something of a re-do. A chance to correct that mistake and bring in the kind of long-term vision of a coach that could both take the team to the next level in the short term and see the forest for the trees.

That search for someone — a partner really — to bring stability to the lead chair would not be an easy one. There were questions to answer.

The appearance of disagreements between coach and management raised those questions. The sudden resignation from Skiles after just one year raised those questions. The roster’s uncertain future and the still unformed nature of this roster raised those questions.

What confidence could a coach have that the vision would remain the same and that everything would remain as sold during the interview after so much turmoil and so much uncertainty?

The Magic had to restore faith in what they are trying to build. And a lot of it had to come on faith.

There was clearly enough faith reportedly to hire Frank Vogel, largely considered the best coaching candidate available on the market. Getting him to buy into the Magic certainly had to be something of a trick.

But it was surely not a home run. There was surely hand-wringing and some discussion over fit and whether this was something that could last longer than a moment.

After a week of instability and the beginning of a summer of big questions, the Magic had to show they are going to be here for a while.

They needed someone who could buy in and execute. Skiles could have been that guy, until he was not.

“We live in an impatient world,” Hennigan said last week during his press conference after Skiles’ resignation. “That’s just the reality and nature of us. I do think that Scott was on board with the plan and the vision. I do think he believe din the players. For whatever reason, he made the decision that he did.”

The Magic’s coaching strategy has matched their building strategy in some ways.

They hired Jacque Vaughn as a coach they hope could stomach losing, keep spirits up and grow with the team when it was time to win. He struggled in that critical third year and, all of a sudden, the Magic lost their long-term leader for their vision. The rebuild lost its straight progression line.

For however it happened, the Magic felt the pressure to turn the corner and hired Scott Skiles. His m.o. is the same everywhere he goes. After a few years, he burns his players out. He was never a long-term solution, just a connection.

So the fact Skiles did not accomplish even the base things he usually does in his coaching stops, made the sense of impermanence even greater.

And now Rob Hennigan and the Magic had run through two coaches. That does not send a good signal to future coaches or future free agents. The very fact the Magic were getting a do-over on the Skiles hire could be viewed as a negative.

Hennigan’s process and thoroughness would be all that could save him. It was the only stable thing the Magic could offer with so many questions.

Frank Vogel, Indiana Pacers
Mar 18, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Indiana Pacers head coach Frank Vogel talks during a timeout in the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports /

“We’re confident with the way we do things around here and how we run things and how we make decisions,” Hennigan said. “We’re confident we will continue to do that.”

That process seemed to lead to one undeniable candidate and one candidate to maintain stability and continue with the small progress made last year. The Magic lucked into a coaching market that featured one of the league’s best coaches and the decision became evident if he was interested in joining them.

The Magic went through their paces, dotted their ‘I’s’ and crossed their ‘T’s,’ but quickly moved forward with Frank Vogel.

The question now is whether this thing will last. The question now is whether the Magic truly built a foundation in improving by 10 wins under Scott Skiles — a foundation which Vogel can build from — or if this roster is simply too undetermined and not malleable enough.

Throughout the press conference last Thursday, there was talk about stability. There was talk about ending this constant shuffling of coaches. Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins said, “We’re going to find the right coach for this team that can bring stability and will be here to be able coach these guys back to the playoffs.”

This is a repeat of a line he has said throughout this rebuild. The Magic are trying to build a sustainable winning team. They want this trip to the Lottery to be their last. And for them to continue growing and growing from here.

None of that can come to pass though if the team did not stick to Hennigan’s vision in some fashion. If it deviated from the course too much, things certainly could have come off the rails.

There is a renewed sense of confidence and excitement from hiring Vogel. For the first time in this rebuild, the Magic seem to have a coach who can take them up the mountain and not just to the next base camp.

That is incredibly freeing.

It is also incredibly stabilizing. The reason Adrian Griffin gained some currency as a candidate was not only his credentials, but also his familiarity. He could best continue the building that occurred in the last year.

Now with Vogel in place, it seems the Magic have that established voice to click with the players and be here for a long time. For Hennigan to survive his job he needed to lock down the coaching position with a hire like. Vogel may yet outlast Hennigan with what they are paying Vogel and his acument and pedigree.

Even if that is the case, Vogel’s presence is a victory for stability, something the Magic were sorely lacking.

“Stability is very important,” Hennigan said. “I think that is something oftentimes has an intangible impact on a team.”

Now the Magic should have their stability. They should have the feeling they can sell to players and free agents: This is our guy.

Next: Orlando Magic begin building winning culture

And that is the best base to build from.