Orlando Magic Name Scott Skiles Head Coach

Dan Savage
Director of Digital News

By John Denton

May 29, 2015

ORLANDO – In the Orlando Magic’s extensive search for its next coach, Scott Skiles’ profile checked all of the boxes because he had been successful previously as a NBA head coach and he brought a distinct toughness and discipline in his persona.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that Skiles is also one of the most popular players in Magic history because of the grittiness and record-setting flair that he displayed while a part of the organization’s first teams more than two decades ago.

All of those factors – but nearly exclusively his head-coaching acumen – paved the way to General Manager Rob Hennigan naming Skiles as the Magic’s 12th head coach in franchise history on Friday. Skiles, 51, was the Magic’s pick because of his proven track record as coach and the belief that his demanding style will get the best out of the Magic’s blossoming young roster.

``Scott clearly distinguished himself as a tremendous fit,’’ Hennigan said. ``Our young roster will benefit greatly from Scott’s extensive head coaching experience and commitment to teaching smart, physical, unselfish basketball. We believe in Scott’s ability to establish a culture of winning habits and accountability that will help guide our team in a positive direction.’’

Skiles has a NBA regular-season record of 443-433 (.506) as head coach with the Suns, Bulls and Bucks. During his 13 seasons as a head coach, his teams have reached the NBA Playoffs six times.

``As we began our search, our internal discussions centered on finding a head coach with a solid resume of NBA head coaching experience, great leadership qualities, a motivating communication style, and someone with a strong strategic acumen,’’ Magic CEO Alex Martins said. ``We feel Scott brings a balanced approach in all those qualities and we look forward, with great confidence, to him leading our young men in helping us reach our collective goal of sustainable success.’’

The Magic have been without a full-time head coach since firing Jacque Vaughn on Feb. 5 following a 15-37 start to the 2014-15 season. James Borrego, who was considered for the full-time coaching position, took over on an interim basis and led the Magic to a 10-20 record over the final 2 ½ months of the season.

Skiles will assume a Magic team that won 25 games last season, but it has a solid foundation of young talent already in place. In center Nikola Vucevic, guards Victor Oladipo, Elfrid Payton and Elfrid Payton and forwards Tobias Harris and Aaron Gordon, Orlando has promising core that is expected to take the next step in the years to come.

Orlando’s hope is that Skiles’ old-school, no-nonsense style of coaching can help extricate all of the potential out of the Magic’s blossoming roster. Skiles’ track record says that his hard-driving tactics should make the Magic a tougher, more competitive style of team, especially on the defensive end of the floor.

Skiles got his start in coaching as the head coach of PAOK in Greece in 1996-97. By 1997, he was back in the NBA as an assistant coach with the Phoenix Suns. Twenty games into the 1999-00 season, Skiles took over as head coach and ultimately led the Suns to a 40-22 mark the rest of the way and an upset of the defending champion San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs. And in 2000-01 his Suns won 51 games and again reached the postseason.

Skiles had great success in Chicago as head coach of the Bulls from 2003-07. Skiles guided the Bulls to three consecutive winning seasons that all ended with playoff appearances. During the 2006-07 season, Skiles’ Bulls squad won 49 games – their most since 1997-98 – and swept the defending NBA champion Miami Heat during the first round of the playoffs.

Skiles took over the Bucks’ head coaching position in 2008 and in that first season he led Milwaukee to an eight-game improvement. And by 20109-10, Milwaukee had improved by 12 games and reached the playoffs following a 46-win season.

Following a highly successful college career at Michigan State as a point guard, Skiles played 10 seasons and in 600 NBA games. The game that Skiles is most famous for came in a Magic uniform on December 30, 1990 when he carved up the Denver Nuggets for 30 assists. That mark still stands as a NBA single-game record.

One of the original members of the expansion Magic in 1989, Skiles quickly became a fan favorite in Orlando because of his fearless, attacking style of play as an undersized point guard. He played in 384 games (285 starts) during five seasons with Orlando from 1989-94. He averaged 12.9 points, 7.2 assists and 2.9 rebounds in 31.1 minutes per game, while shooting .380 (384-1,010) from three-point range and .892 (1,176-1,319) from the free throw line.

Skiles was named the NBA’s Most Improved Player following the 1990-91 season with the Magic when he averaged a career-high 17.2 points and 8.4 assists a game. Skiles still ranks among the Magic’s all-time leaders in assists (second, 2,776), free throws made (seventh, 1,176), free throws attempted (eighth, 1,319), minutes played (ninth, 11,940), three-pointers made (10th, 384) and points scored (10th, 4,996).