An investigation into who voted for Orlando Magic’s Jeff Weltman as executive of the year

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Jeff Weltman, Orlando Magic
Orlando Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman has some tough choices to make to boslter the team’s forward depth after Jonathan Isaac’s injury. (Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Orlando Magic executive Jeff Weltman received a lone first-place vote for Executive of the Year. Where did it come from and why? We investigate.

The NBA award season has wound down as the NBA Finals get set to end too.

The results have looked a little bit silly in light of how the playoffs have turned out though. These are regular-season awards, but the playoffs are where decisions and legacies are really made. Seeing Giannis Antetokounmp deservedly win the MVP while he is at home after his team was eliminated in the second round is frustrating and contains only a little dissonance.

But no decision or award has gotten as much ridicule as the NBA’s Executive of the Year Award.

The award voted on by the league’s executives went to LA Clippers general manager Lawrence Frank. That would make sense after the regular season considering how Frank positioned his team to sign Kawhi Leonard and acquire Paul George. That alone, much like when John Gabriel won when the Orlando Magic acquired Tracy McGrady and Grant Hill in the same offseason, would launch him as the top candidate.

Everyone, including management types, loves a splashy move.

But releasing those results in light of the Clippers’ flameout in the postseason and seeming discord over team expectations for this season looked a bit silly. Especially since everyone recognizes the Oklahoma City Thunder and Sam Presti, who finished second, got a king’s ransom from the LA Clippers to give up George.

There are a lot of skilled executives playing this game. And while the Magic have accomplished a lot in the past three years rebuilding the team’s infrastructure and regaining respectability by making the playoffs the last two years, they are not a big player on the national stage and they are not exactly rolling in notice.

Somebody out there disagrees.

One brave, intrepid voter for the league’s executive of the year award voted Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman as the executive of the year. Not second or third place, but as the executive of the year.

The Magic were largely absent from the postseason award voting — Terrence Ross did not even get a vote for Sixth Man of the Year — but they appeared here. And it was a bit strange to see.

Weltman has done a good job to this point. But his gains have been incremental and more about what he has done behind the scenes. The team’s improvement on the court has been a product of a smart coaching hire in Steve Clifford and the environment he has created.

Orlando Magic
Orlando Magic /

Orlando Magic

But most Magic fans were not anywhere near satisfied with how the season went — the team itself probably was not either. Injuries slowed the team’s development down, but the Magic ended up right where they were last year near the bottom of the playoff standings.

More amazingly, Weltman did this while largely maintaining the same roster. The Magic’s offseason was spent re-signing Nikola Vucevic, Terrence Ross and Michael Carter-Williams. The biggest addition to the team was Al-Farouq Aminu, and he played in only 18 games because of a knee injury.

There have been a few keyboard warriors who have either called for Weltman’s firing or put him on the hot seat for the lone year of stagnation. That is a bit ridiculous considering this team’s success to this point. But everyone is antsy to see what moves Weltman makes next.

And certainly, that big move will be the one that likely will define his tenure with the Magic. But Orlando has largely been nondescript on the market. They have not played the splashy move that usually gets everyone to pay attention to a general manager.

Someone out there clearly respects the job Weltman has done and did this year. But who? A few suggestions . . .