5 worst starters of Orlando Magic’s Shaquille O’Neal era
Jon Koncak (1996)
35 starts, 3.0 PPG, 4.1 RPG
First off, Jon Koncak deserves a lot of credit for helping the 1996 Orlando Magic become the only 60-win team in franchise history.
Shaquille O’Neal missed the first 22 games of the season after breaking his thumb (I believe in a fight with Matt Geiger during the preseason, which is yet another reason to hate the Miami Heat). Koncak, acquired in the offseason in free agency, got the call to start those 22 games.
The Orlando Magic went 17-5 in that time, including the team’s lone win over the 72-10 Chicago Bulls for the entire season. As with any player who is out for some time, there was some questions whether the Magic would integrate O’Neal back in — a silly question to ask in retrospect for several reasons but especially considering the stakes that quickly became clear during that season with O’Neal’s future — but those should have been easily brushed aside.
The time without Shaquille O’Neal allowed Anfernee Hardaway to blossom and become the superstar O’Neal should have needed to bring a title to Orlando.
In that time starting, Koncak averaged 4.3 points and 5.9 rebounds per game in 26.3 minutes per game. The Magic leaned heavily on O’Neal when he returned and Koncak dropped to 11.5 minutes per game as a reserve the rest of the season.
Koncak’s career is mostly known for his nickname “Jon Contract,” given to him after he signed a deal that paid him a top amount of $2.9 million in the 1994 season. That was a hefty amount at the time — an amount that alienated Dominique Wilkins and led to his sojourn to Greece and eventually the Los Angeles Clippers and Boston Celtics.
Making the case more for Koncak not being a great investment for the Magic (even for a year) is that the 1996 season was the last of his career. Even after the Orlando Magic traded him to the Golden State Warriors along with Donald Royal, his career was done.
If there is that silver lining, that trade helped the Magic acquire Rony Seikaly. The first, and probably the best, player the Magic had to replace Shaquille O’Neal at center until they drafted Dwight Howard in 2004.