The Magic are quickly hurtling toward a flashpoint in their franchise’s history as the Dwight Howard saga will get a final resolution this offseason. That is what team President Alex Martins has alluded to since the Magic’s elimination from the postseason, vowing the team would not go through the ordeal and turmoil it went through in 2012.
He fired Stan Van Gundy and Otis Smith and is seeking to completely remake the Magic organization to clean up the mess from last season.
The first step in this remodeling project comes in the form of hiring a new general manager.
The Magic have been looking everywhere for a splashy name with championship experience and the ability to connect and work with players (read: Dwight Howard) better. The assumption is that this general manager will be given more authority to establish that program and more freedom to trade Dwight Howard should Howard decline a final offer for a long-term extension in Orlando.
Orlando has a decent list of candidates with former Hornets GM Jeff Bower, Thunder assistant GMs Troy Weaver and Rob Hennigan, Spurs assistant GM Jeff Lindsay, former Trail Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard and possibly Pacers GM David Morway on the list of finalists. There have also been various rumors that the Magic are still interested in bringing Phil Jackson into the franchise in some capacity. Ric Bucher of ESPN the Magazine also added in former Trail Blazers executive Tom Penn into the mix too.
So much for having a general manager by the end of last week, as was reported.
What seems clear now is that there is not a true leader for the Magic’s front office post.
Ken Berger of CBS Sports reports that Bower appears to be the favorite, but that could mean very little right now. If Martins has completed all of his interviews, he is expected to meet with Rich DeVos and the DeVos family to present and argue for his choice. This could happen later this week, it could happen next week, it could have already happened and the process is ongoing.
There are no shortage of good candidates it seems, there just is not a decision yet.
Orlando is going to have to make one soon though. With Neil Olshey heading to Portland and beginning his search to fill Portland’s head coaching vacancy, and with the NBA Draft quickly approaching, Orlando has to have its front office in place.
The rumor is that several coaches are either not enamored with the Bobcats job or are waiting for the Magic to make a decision. Brian Shaw is believed to be the favored candidate for the vacant head coaching job, but the team said they would not move forward with that search until they have a GM in place.
It makes you wonder how long guys like Brian Shaw and Nate McMillan can wait before jumping at an opportunity.
Not only that, the Magic probably want to use this very deep draft as part of a trade package either to improve the team or move Dwight Howard. A lot of that work has to get done before the Draft as the team analyzes the players it thinks it wants to acquire and trades re-open. According to Berger, Orlando hopes to have its GM in place at least 7-10 days before the draft.
You have to wonder if that is enough time for him to get a feel for what Dwight Howard wants to do (then again, a whole year may not be enough time) and begin exploring trade opportunities that will shape the next decade of the franchise.
These are big decisions. And Alex Martins is sure to take his time.