|Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak is an obvious target for the Magic. (US Presswire)|
The Orlando Magic will begin scheduling interviews for their general manager position Friday and hope to have an executive in place within three weeks, league sources told CBSSports.com.
Among the characteristics said to be most prized by Magic CEO Alex Martins is championship experience. So while there have been no public indications that Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak will be available or wants to leave Los Angeles, Kupchak is expected to be among the first wave of candidates the Magic pursue, one of the sources said.
In addition to reaching out to free-agent candidates, the team's list also will include executives who are under contract with other teams. Martins also is expected to begin contacting teams Friday to ask permission to interview such candidates, and Kupchak -- with multiple championships on his resume -- will be among the obvious targets, sources said.
Kupchak has one year left on his contract, and made it clear after the Lakers were ousted in the second round for the second consecutive year that there will be some changes in the organization. Hiring Kupchak is not without hurdles -- front-office sources find it difficult to imagine him leaving Southern California -- but if the opportunity is right, the changes Kupchak alluded to could involve him.
The Magic also are interested in speaking with Pacers general manager David Morway and former Hornets GM Jeff Bower, both of whom have interviewed twice for the Trail Blazers' opening, and former Portland GM and current Pacers executive Kevin Pritchard, sources said.
Magic officials believe former Pacers and Knicks president Donnie Walsh would be a good fit, but sources say the team is convinced that if Walsh returns to a front-office job, it will be in Indiana in the likely event team president Larry Bird retires.
Orlando will hire the GM first and then look for a coach who is on the same page with the GM. Among the early candidates that are expected to be in the mix for the coaching opening are Golden State assistant Michael Malone; Pacers assistant Brian Shaw; and the Bucks' Scott Skiles, who is beloved in Orlando and is said to be open to leaving Milwaukee after missing the playoffs for a second straight season.
Though Shaquille O'Neal has expressed interest in the past in a front-office job with the Magic, the team never reached out to the All-Star-turned-TV-commentator about the GM opening, according to a person familiar with Orlando's process.
The first order of business for the new Magic GM will be to address the future of O'Neal's protege, Dwight Howard. The team is in frequent communication with Howard's agent, Dan Fegan, and is resigned to the reality of trading Howard if he does not agree to an extension this summer. But sources said that Howard himself has not indicated to Magic officials since his season-ending back surgery whether or not he still wants to be traded.