Denton: Vaughn Named Magic's Coach

Dan Savage
Director of Digital News

By John Denton July 28, 2012

ORLANDOWhen they worked together in San Antonio six years ago, Rob Hennigan would look on from afar at how veteran point guard Jacque Vaughn meticulously prepared himself to play, interacted with coaches and teammates and exhibited leadership in a variety of ways.

Even as far back as 2006, Hennigan thought that Vaughn would someday make a great head coach in the NBA.

That day finally came to fruition on Saturday when Hennigan, the Magic’s new General Manager, named Vaughn as Orlando’s newest head coach. Even though Vaughn has no prior head coaching experience at the NBA level, Hennigan is confident that the 37-year-old former point guard will be a big hit as the Magic’s next leader.

``Throughout the process we wanted to find someone who embodied the type of culture that we’re trying to build here. Jacque’s presence, his intelligence level, his commitment to preparation and being detail-oriented in everything that he does impressed us,’’ Hennigan said. ``He’s committed to player development and I think his communication style is one that will work well with our players.

``With his character and his humility, I think we’ve found someone who is going to represent and lead our team with class and an attention to detail,’’ Hennigan continued. ``He’s passionate and purposeful in everything that he does and that really impressed us throughout the process.’’

Vaughn emerged from a group of finalists that included Michael Curry and Lindsey Hunter. He met with legendary Magic owner Rich DeVos and team Chairman Dan DeVos in Michigan last Friday. Vaughn will meet the Orlando media on Monday at 2 p.m. The news conference from the Amway Center will be streamed live on

Vaughn spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs. He played in the NBA for 12 seasons, spending the 2002-03 year with the Magic as a backup point guard. He was also a member of the Spurs’ 2006-07 NBA World Championship team. It was during that time when Hennigan, then a front office employee in San Antonio, admired Vaughn’s professionalism and basketball smarts from afar and first started thinking of him as a future head coach.

``Getting to know Jacque and observing him, his attention to detail and his ability to interact with teammates and coaches commanded him a certain level of respect,’’ Hennigan recalled. ``Top to bottom, there was a genuine level of respect and everyone just seemed to gravitate toward Jacque.’’

Hennigan said that Vaughn’s lack of head coaching experience wasn’t a cause for concern because of the coaches that he learned the game under while in college and the NBA. In the NBA, Vaughn played for Jerry Sloan, Doc Rivers and Gregg Popovich. Popovich, the owner of four championship rings, thought so much of Vaughn as a player that he brought him onto his coaching staff two seasons ago.

``As we were going through the process, we did a lot of research on all of the candidates and we feel that experience is a relative term,’’ Hennigan said. ``When you look at Jacque’s playing career and the coaches that he’s played for and learned from, we have a high level of confidence that he’s well-equipped and ready for this opportunity.’’

Hennigan said that he, Vaughn and assistant GM Scott Perry have already discussed the style of play that the Magic will have in the coming years. Much of it will depend on the personnel, namely center Dwight Howard. The six-time all-star has repeatedly requested a trade, something he reaffirmed to Hennigan last week during a meeting. But the Magic have been cautious in trading Howard because they have yet to find a deal that is most beneficial to the organization.

``We met with Dwight and his representation on Wednesday and we continue to exchange information with each other,’’ Hennigan said. ``As I’ve stated all along we’re going to keep the specifics of our dialogue private. But our plan is to stick with the process and continue to work through it and evaluate the situation.’’

As for Vaughn, he wasn’t ever a flashy player, but he managed to stick around in the NBA for 12 years with his basketball smarts, bubbly charisma and strong communication skills. A first-round draft pick in 1997, he played for Utah, Atlanta, Orlando, New Jersey and San Antonio and averaged 4.5 points and 2.5 assists in his career.

Vaughn played 80 games with the Magic during the 2002-03 season, averaging 5.9 points and 2.9 assists. Vaughn was a favorite of then-Magic coach Doc Rivers, who repeatedly said that he thought Vaughn would someday make a fine head coach someday because of his coach-like demeanor on and off the floor.

Hennigan feels in Vaughn that the Magic have plucked the brightest, most dynamic young mind in the coaching ranks to be the leader of the team on the floor.

``We really feel that he’s ready for this and we’re excited that he’s on board,’’ Hennigan said. ``We feel that he has all of the characteristics to be a successful coach in this league.’’

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