Scott Skiles is Perfect Hire for Orlando Since He can be Fired Without Backlash

Being lost in my own mental shuffle of the NBA Playoffs, I guess it is better late than never.

When the Orlando Magic hired Scott Skiles a few weeks ago the NBA community met it with all the sighs in the world. An underwhelming hire by most standards, for sure, but people seem to be looking at this from a non-logical standpoint.

Two important questions need to be brought, then discussed, to mention why this is actually an excellent hiring by the Magic:

What kind of coach is Scott Skiles and what kind of roster do the Orlando Magic currently have?

Skiles is a guy who has a 443-433 overall (.506) coaching record, been to the NBA Playoffs six times, gotten fired twice, “resigned” once, and is known as a solid developer of talents as well as being a pretty tremendous defensively oriented coach.

Yes, he certainly has his limitations as a coach, will unlikely ever be the type who takes teams over the hump, nor will Skiles make good players great, but…

The Orlando Magic are really young. They aren’t going to win right away. What they can use now, though, is a coach who will implement a good defensive foundation, while not getting in the way of the development of the younger players, and a guy the fan base will not get upset over when he is inevitably fired. Basically, Orlando does not yet need a coach who is capable of doing more than that.

That’s right. Orlando made the perfect hire in Skiles because he can be easily and justifiably fired when the Magic struggle over the next few years. As important as that, few members of their fan base will be up in arms when (if) Skiles is terminated well before his contract is over.

This is where logic comes in. Especially when we try to bring it into a type of conversation which usually does not allow for reason, sane expectations, and any form of realism.

The Magic aren’t going to be a good-to-great team any time soon. They do have a really solid and young roster, however. The kind of roster which might make a run at the eight seed of the NBA Playoffs next year or the year after. But that’s not the primary objective of NBA franchises. None want to be “merely” good enough to get swept in the first round of the postseason. They want to be better than that. And Orlando is still a handful of years away from being it, even if they are to play their cards right over the next two or three.

So why bring in a coach more sought after than Skiles? They shouldn’t have. Hell, they shouldn’t even have entertained the idea of doing so. Logically speaking, it makes no sense to bring in a guy they would have to pay more for, one that the fan base might become more emotionally attached to than Scott Skiles, knowing that they would have to can him after year three or during year four. Or, at least, before the roster is ready to compete at the their peak talent levels.

With Skiles, though, they get the best of all the worlds. A guy who won’t stunt any of the franchise’s growth, while laying that solid foundation of defense young players could certainly use, and eating up all the bad seasons, before Orlando eventually makes the move to bring in a coach they actually want to run the team.

More or less, Orlando is still a fluid, non-complete body of work. There’s no reason to put a permanent fixture type of coach at the helm to lead a team built like that. Not when you can get a solid coach like Skiles, presumably for much cheaper than a hotter commodity, and he can take all the blunts, blows, and criticisms before Orlando is ready to take the next step to being a legit Eastern Conference contender.

Of course this unlikely sits well with much of the fan base. Who wants to be told to settle for mediocrity… through a coaching hire, nevertheless? But it is a move that shows incredible foresight, and one that other NBA franchises should try to emulate.

Instead of everyone trying to win the press conference, or trick their fan base into thinking they’re going to be better sooner than later, maybe it is time for the Orlando Magics of the world to be smart and simply trust in their plan instead of overpaying for a coach who isn’t the right fit for their current organization.

It is a “know who you are in the now” type of situation.

No, it isn’t fun, and it truly pulls back the curtain on how the NBA is as much as business as it is a sport, but it really is time for owners, general managers, and the like to be more honest with fans, while continuing to acknowledge that not every NBA team can be competing for an NBA title every single year.

If fans can’t handle that simple, obvious, and mostly already-known truth, well, that’s on them. And it is probably time they believe in fans’ thought process more as well, as teams like the Sixers have trusted in their plan of tanking, while hoping their fan base understands it — and for the most part, while not all do, enough have that they haven’t changed in their actions.

Orlando, like Philadelphia, should be met with a standing ovation, rather than the sighs, when enacting a plan which is considered less traditional. They, unlike few others, have shown the best type of foresight possible for an NBA organization. For the Magic, they hired a coach because they know they are going to have to fire him before their team is ready to compete at a high level.

It makes so much sense that it has been dismissed, yet I say it should be the wave of the future. Honesty, everyone, is truly the best policy — and no one has been more honest with their current state of their franchise than Orlando.


About Joseph Nardone

Joseph has covered college basketball both (barely) professionally and otherwise for over five years. A Column of Enchantment for Rush The Court on Thursdays and other basketball stuff for The Student Section on other days.