“Orlando has been really quiet,” I told a Orlando Magic staff member of The Hardwood Nation earlier in the week. His response, “Well it’s the offseason, it’s supposed to be quiet.”
But this was different. The quiet felt was an eerie suspension that something was about to happen but I wasn’t quite sure what it was but we would all find out Thursday morning when Orlando Magic Head Coach Scott Skiles announced his resignation.
“After much thought and careful consideration, I and I alone, have come to the conclusion that I am not the right head coach for this team,” said Skiles. “Therefore, effective immediately, I resign my position as head coach of the Orlando Magic. I realize this type of decision can cause much speculation. The reality though is in the first sentence. It is simple and true. Any other rumors are pure conjecture.”
“I sincerely apologize for any unintended consequences that may adversely affect anyone associated with this decision,” Skiles continued. “The Magic are a world-class organization that employs world-class people. I wish them nothing but great success. I will always be thankful, especially to the DeVos family, for the opportunity.”
It’s easy to say that Skiles “just quit” on the franchise that he had his most success with as an NBA player. It’s easy to say that Skiles turned his back on the franchise that gave him an opportunity to record an NBA record 30 assists in a game in 1990. Scott Skiles participated and watched as the naive expansion team turned into a naive contender and then into a naive basement of the league from afar. He was entrenched and loved the franchise that he called home for five of his ten year playing career but something changed, something sinister arose.
“After much thought and careful consideration, I and I alone, have come to the conclusion that I am not the right head coach for this team.”
The sweet irony in the statement is that just under a year ago Skiles was heralded as the right head coach for the young and talented Orlando Magic. Simply put at that time anything was better than Jacque Vaughn but it was then that the foundation for Skiles departure was laid. As shocking as Thursday’s announcement was at the immediate moment, the actual outcome had been predicted months before by many in the know.
Despite Skiles looking miserable, which he is a master of, the following statement caused all to dig into the deeper issue against Skiles wishes.
“The reality though is in the first sentence. It is simple and true. Any other rumors are pure conjecture.”
Sadly conjecture wins!
The inconsistency of the Magic’s roster throughout the season highlighted a greater problem. Who was really pulling the strings on the court and was the COACH actually being allowed to do what he was brought in to do. It’s no secret that Skiles wasn’t a fan of point guard Elfrid Payton whom the franchise has backed blindly. With that said, the often tragic Orlando did move Tobias Harris for older pieces that would bring a calming force to a team so young. That was a Skiles move, but it proved to be the only move made to attempt to jump-start the team and bring the urgency needed for an eventual failed playoff run. The franchise allowed Skiles to win one battle, but there would be no more.
One of the disagreements between Skiles and the Magic front office was about the team’s point guard situation. Hennigan and the front office regarded — and still regard — Elfrid Payton as the franchise’s point guard of the future. Skiles did not.
Per Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel
Reportedly Skiles was given “Hush” money to conceal the real issue behind closed doors which prompted more speculation.
Was Skiles betrayed by a confidant?
This past January with the Orlando Magic tragically stuck in a slump of only two wins and twelve losses, Skiles reportedly told assistant coach Adrian Griffin that he made a mistake by taking the coaching job. It was Griffin who went to management and alerted the franchise of Skiles discontent and it is Griffin who is now also one of the leading candidates to take over for Skiles (Frank Vogel being the other). Before Skiles’s announcement it was Griffin and not Skiles who traveled alongside of General Manager Rob Hennigan to Chicago for the NBA Draft Combine this past week.
Quite honestly the Magic have had a tool (Vaughn) as a coach before, they need not hire another.
By quitting on his team, isn’t Scott Skiles telling everyone that what the Magic really need is new players?
A Possible Solution?
This past season early playoff hopes were dashed by the disastrous 2-12 January but what does the future hold. The team is still young and talented but that alone isn’t enough. Despite the 10 game improvement year over year, the roster remains flawed, the pieces just don’t work and moves have to be made. The back court of Payton and Victor Oladipo is holding the franchise back, good people not withstanding, their NBA IQ lacks severely as does their shooting. In a make or miss league the deficiencies of those two are greatly highlighted.
Personal feelings aside that back court has to be dismantled. The Magic could leverage more pieces from Oladipo than they can Payton but the tone has to be set. Admit the mistakes of drafts past and move the franchise forward properly versus the twiddling of thumbs that is causing the team to once again move backwards. Patience has its limits if an effort to improve isn’t being made.
Magic management is holding out hope that they can lure a top-tier free agent to the franchise via cap space starting this offseason but what’s appealing about the franchise at this point in time. Is it a coach? no. Could it be stability? No. Could it possibly be the freedom of no state tax? No, that can be had in Magic rival and three time NBA Champion the Miami Heat, alongside of all of the above.
The biggest question is when will the fans of the franchise, the die hards, hold management accountable. Despite different regimes since their inception the ineptitude remains as GM Hennigan is now tasked with hiring his 3rd coach since 2012. Ineptitude breeds instability and as Magic GM’s past, Hennigan’s time could soon come to an end. The boy wonder is turning out to be nothing more than fool’s gold.
One thing is certain, the Orlando Magic, time and time again, have asked fans to be patient with the rebuilding process and the plan. Fair or not, the fans have been told to give blind trust to the franchise who over the years have proven to be more lucky than stable. If the plan supersedes all akin to Sam Hinke’s time with the Philadelphia 76ers, the misery of the Magic fans will continue and they’ll continue to be enthralled by the Magic’s greatest trick over and over again……….Disappearing acts.
And sadly the franchise’s fans are too blind, too crushed, and too naive to understand that they deserve so much better.