Vacant Orlando Magic Head Coaching Job Attractive Opportunity for Candidates

by Josh Cohen

ORLANDO - The Orlando Magic’s head coaching position opened up on Saturday afternoon after Steve Clifford and the organization mutually agreed to part ways.

The person who takes over will have an amazing opportunity in front of them.

Asked Saturday about the attractiveness of this head coaching position, Magic President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman highlighted the team’s promising outlook.

“We are in a good place right now and I really believe this is a coveted job,” he said. “This job has tremendous growth potential, which is very attractive. It has organizational strength and ownership behind it. We are moving into a new practice facility next year. There are a lot of good things happening here. Most importantly, we have a lot of bright young talented players.”

Not often does a coach walk into a situation where most of the players on the roster are in the very early stages of their development. The Magic’s next head coach will get to work with the team’s young stars, many of whom are under 24 years old including Markelle Fultz, Jonathan Isaac, Cole Anthony, R.J. Hampton, Wendell Carter Jr., Chuma Okeke and Mo Bamba.

More young talent will soon be coming to Orlando. The Magic are guaranteed a top seven pick in the upcoming draft and they may have a second top 10 selection depending on what happens in the lottery with the Chicago Bulls’ pick. Orlando also has the 33rd pick of the second round.

Many believe this is a very strong draft class, especially at the top. The Magic, therefore, have a golden opportunity to expedite their rebuild by adding at least one and possibly two players with very high ceilings.

Just in the last couple years, we have seen throughout the league what can happen immediately following a coaching change.

A team in the Magic’s division, the Atlanta Hawks went from out of the playoff picture entirely to now being in the Eastern Conference Semifinals after turning the keys over to interim coach Nate McMillan in the middle of the season. In 2019, the Phoenix Suns hired Monty Williams to be their new head coach. In just two years, he has completely turned around the franchise, which is now in the Western Conference Semifinals for the first time since 2010. Tom Thibodeau changed the culture in New York, which made the playoffs this season for the first time since 2013.

In his first year as the head coach in Toronto in 2018-19, Nick Nurse led the Raptors to the NBA championship. Frank Vogel, a former Magic coach, led the Lakers to the title in his first year in L.A. Those are obviously unique circumstances in which a coach took over with superstars in their prime already on the roster, but the point is sometimes a team just needs a new voice.

No matter what kind of experience the Magic’s next head coach has on their resume, there’s evidence things can turn around quickly. Brad Stevens, now in a front office role in Boston, made the Celtics title contenders not long after jumping from the college ranks to the pros, for example.

While there isn’t a timetable for when the team will name a new head coach, Weltman is excited about the process and is looking forward to talking with potential candidates.

“We won’t leave any stone unturned, I can tell you that,” he said. “Some of the candidates that we met with last time (in 2018), you guys were aware of and honestly there were some that you weren’t aware of and might surprise you. That being said, we won’t let any experience level or any other kind of pigeonholing get in the way of us finding the right coach for this team.”

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