Denton: And the Search Begins

By John Denton
May 24, 2012

ORLANDO – As associate head coach of the Indiana Pacers, Brian Shaw currently has his work cut out for him trying to figure out a way to slow down the Miami Heat and extend their playoff series to a seventh game.

But when Shaw is finished with the season, he will likely turn his focus to fulfilling the dream he’s had for years of becoming a NBA head coach. And there’s no place Shaw would rather work than Orlando, his favorite stop throughout his professional playing and coaching career.

Shaw is considered one of the top head coaching candidates available after serving under legendary coach Phil Jackson in Los Angeles and working with Frank Vogel in Indiana. The Orlando Magic could very well be interested in Shaw in the coming weeks after relieving Stan Van Gundy as head coach on Monday.

The Magic also have a vacancy at the top of their Basketball Operations division after Otis Smith, the team’s GM the past six seasons, parted ways with the team on Monday. The Magic plan to hire a GM first and then a head coach with significant input from the new general manager.

Shaw, who played with the Magic from 1994-97, is certainly hoping that Orlando will consider him as a candidate for its open coaching spot when the time comes. He feels he’s ready for a head coaching job after putting in his time on the bench over the past eight years.

``Well, that’s been a goal of mine since my last couple of years of playing,’’ Shaw said of potentially becoming a head coach. ``Phil Jackson and Frank Hamblen would invite me into the coach’s meetings because they kept telling me that I would coach when I was done playing. Phil wanted to groom me to be a coach and teach me the organizational skills.

``Being a head coach is something that I’ve always had my eye on, but at the same time I’m enjoying myself (in Indiana),’’ Shaw continued. ``I’ve learned from one of the best in Phil and it’s been refreshing being in a different system and a different thought process. It just makes me more well-rounded when that (head coaching) opportunity comes.’’

There seems to be no shortage of interest in the Magic openings. reported recently that former Magic center Shaquille O’Neal could be in line to interview for the GM job. Also, former Utah Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan told the Salt Lake Tribune that he would be interested in talking to the Magic and the Bobcats about their vacant head coaching jobs.

Shaw, 46, was surprisingly passed over by the Lakers last summer when they were seeking a head coach to replace the retiring Jackson. He had an endorsement from Jackson, the owner of 11 championship rings, and star guard Kobe Bryant. But the Lakers instead hired Mike Brown.

Shaw, who is in his first season as an assistant in Indiana, is held in high regard among other GMs in the NBA. In a survey of GMs in the league, Shaw received 21 percent of the votes in a poll to name the league’s best assistant coach. Michael Malone, son of former Magic assistant coach Brendan Malone, was the top vote-getter with 29 percent.

O’Neal, who was a teammate of Shaw’s in Orlando and Los Angeles, said in a 2007 interview that Shaw is the teammate that he most respected throughout his playing career. Shaw played for seven NBA teams, but considered his three seasons in Orlando the most special.

``Of all of the stops I made throughout the league, Orlando is the only place that I ever bought a house. I loved my time here and I loved to fish in all of the lakes here,’’ said Shaw, a member of the 1995 Magic team that reached the NBA Finals. ``This is one place that I always said that I could live here. I played in Boston, Miami, Philly and Portland and even during my four years in L.A. I never bought a house there. Orlando is very different now than when I was here, but still it’s a very pleasant place.’’

John Denton writes for John has covered the Magic since 1997 and recently authored ``All You Can Be’’ with Magic center Dwight Howard. E-mail John at

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