Orlando Magic fans are left deciphering some of Jeff Weltman’s early moves as president of basketball operations. A pattern and some core values have emerged.
Orlando Magic fans are still getting a feel for who new president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman is. They are still getting to learn who he likes for this roster and how he wants to build the Orlando Magic.
But as Weltman says on his appearance on the Woj Pod with Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, no one can eat the whole apple in one bite. And it will take some time to redevelop the Magic.
Weltman shared a lot of his 25-year experience — and really a lifetime — around basketball in his hour-long conversation with Wojnarowski and how he will bring that to bear in helping rebuild the Magic.
Weltman noted things have changed drastically since one of his first NBA jobs with the Denver Nuggets. In Denver, the Nuggets tanked for a year and got the third pick in the draft to take Carmelo Anthony. The Nuggets became a model of rebuilding the right way, finding good veterans to support a young star to create sustained success.
Now, it seems, too many teams have adopted this method. Leaving plenty of struggling teams unable to get the high picks necessary to transform their roster. That is partly where Weltman finds the Magic today. He has to find a new way to build.
But the same core beliefs remain for him as he tries to reshape the Magic.
"“I think the slippery slope of saying here’s our identity, here’s exactly what we want to be about is you’re talking about human beings,” Weltman said on the podcast. “And you’re talking about decisions you can’t always make the way you want to make them. The question is are certain moments going to align for you where you can build around the guys you want to build around. And if not, how do you proceed from there? You have to have an understanding of the priorities of the character and the skill set and the abilities of the players you are bringing in, the staff you are bringing in and everyone is selfless. If you have that as a root foundation, that is a solid foundation to build upon.”"
Weltman said the most important thing for the Magic this year is to build the pillars of their new organization. Part of that is hiring good people to run the organization — like general manager John Hammond — and growing for something the organization is looking for.
It seems like Weltman has begun to build that foundation. But undoubtedly, he is giving the team its time to grow and develop too. He said he is eager to get to know the players the team has already and to see how things gel with some coaching continuity heading into next season.
Weltman said he did not want to get rid of players who were not “his players.” He wanted to evaluate the players he has on the roster. He wanted to listen to the coach and the remaining basketball operations staff about this group.
It seems Weltman shares the feeling the Magic were trending in the right direction at the end of last season. Whether that sticks remains to be seen.
In the podcast, Weltman also discussed how the league has changed from his time growing up around the game. His father was a general manager and executive for the ABA’s Spirits of St. Louis. He also talked about working for the Los Angeles Clippers and his time around the league.
While there is no clear vision for the team quite yet, it is easy to see Weltman laying the foundations for what he believes the Magic can be.