Orlando Magic hire Jeff Weltman, who brings John Hammond in as GM
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Jeff Weltman brought in a familiar face to help him try and turn the Orlando Magic around.
Hours after the Magic formally announced Weltman on Tuesday morning as their president of basketball operations, he named longtime NBA executive John Hammond the club’s new general manager.
The two worked together in Milwaukee years ago, though the tables were turned back then with Weltman reporting to Hammond.
Considering their history, if they didn’t come as a package deal, Orlando’s moves certainly have that feel to them.
“John brings tremendous experience and is a great talent evaluator,” said Weltman, who was an assistant general manager under Hammond in Milwaukee from 2008-13 and the two also worked together in Detroit from 2007-08. “He has experience in everything from day-to-day operations to player development.”
Hammond replaces Rob Hennigan, who was fired last month after the Magic failed to make the playoffs during his five-year tenure.
Weltman and Hammond are well-respected, veteran NBA front office executives, but they inherit a team that went 29-53 last season.
It is unlikely they will be overwhelmed by the challenges they face. The pair has a successful track record in the NBA.
Hammond, 62, spent the last nine seasons as the Milwaukee Bucks general manager. In Hammond’s 26 years in the NBA, his teams have made 15 postseason appearances.
“He built a great team in Milwaukee, and won a championship while in Detroit.” Weltman said in the release. “We are very fortunate to have him as part of the Magic family.”
Weltman, who is scheduled to be introduced at a news conference on Wednesday, spent just one season as the Toronto Raptors’ general manager, the last of his four years with the organization. It was reported Monday night that Weltman and the Magic had agreed to a deal.
In addition to stops in Toronto, Milwaukee, Denver and Detroit, Weltman also has worked with the Los Angeles Clippers. A veteran in NBA circles, he is relatively unknown to the casual basketball fan.
While the Magic have the No. 6 pick in the upcoming NBA draft, Weltman and Hammond face an uphill battle in returning the Magic to the postseason with a roster that has been in constant transition under Hennigan.
The Magic have talent, but still lack the elite talent. Weltman and Hammond will work with head coach Frank Vogel, who is entering his second season with Orlando, to fix a roster that has many weaknesses.
Orlando’s needs are many: a consistent shooter and scoring threat; possible upgrade at point guard position, although Elfrid Payton finished the season strong. In addition to the sixth pick, the Magic also have 25th, 33rd and 35th picks in next month’s draft.
Magic president Jeff Martins believes Weltman is the right person to get the job done.
“Jeff brings tremendous experience and a team-first approach to our president of basketball operations position,” Martins said in team release. “Jeff is a strategic thinker and strong leader, has great relationships in the industry, and will bring a collaborative approach to our basketball operations leadership.”
Weltman and Hammond, while not splash hires that Cleveland Cavaliers general manager David Griffin would have been, are respected in NBA executives. There were reports that the Magic would pursue Griffin. But the way things fell into place, combined with the history Weltman and Hammond share, it’s conceivable the deal to bring them both in together had been in the works for weeks.
The 52-year-old Weltman joined the Raptors in 2013 as their vice president of basketball operations before taking over last September as GM under team president Masai Ujiri.
It’s unclear what role Matt Lloyd, who has been the interim general manager since Hennigan was fired, will have with the team going forward. He had been a candidate for the Magic’s general manager job.