Magic mess: Doc Rivers dismisses Orlando rumors as GM reportedly on the hot seat

The Orlando Magic traded Dwight Howard and fired Stan Van Gundy in the summer of 2012. In the four seasons after that, they finished with 20, 23, 25 and 35 wins. This season, they’re 25-45 under new coach Frank Vogel, their fourth in five years including interim coach James Borrego’s 30-game tenure in 2015. Without a franchise player or an identity, the team could undergo another makeover this summer. While Los Angeles Clippers president and coach Doc Rivers has denied rumors that he could return to Orlando, ESPN’s Marc Stein reported that Magic general manager Rob Hennigan’s job could be in serious jeopardy:

Sources told ESPN that Magic general manager Rob Hennigan’s job is under threat at season’s end in the wake of a fifth straight non-playoff season since he was hired.

The Magic expected to contend for a playoff berth this season after hiring former Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel to replace Scott Skiles and trading for Serge Ibaka on draft day last June.

But Hennigan, the league’s youngest GM at age 34, wound up trading Ibaka to the Toronto Raptors just eight months after surrendering Victor Oladipo , No. 11 overall pick Domantas Sabonis and another future first-round pick to acquire him from the Oklahoma City Thunder .

The about-face on Ibaka was widely seen not only as a concession that the Magic’s roster was overloaded with big men but also that they had little shot of re-signing Ibaka in free agency this summer.

But Rivers moved to dismiss the notion that he could emerge as a possible successor to Hennigan, telling local reporters before Saturday’s home win over the Cleveland Cavaliers: “I can tell you I had a past with the Magic. I have no future [in Orlando]. My future’s here.”

Detroit Pistons executive Pat Garrity, who played for the Magic, and Golden State Warriors assistant general manager Travis Schlenk, who broke into the NBA with the Magic, have already surfaced as potential candidates for the job should Orlando make a change, as many league insiders expect.

A few thoughts:

  • The Rivers stuff is interesting. There’s no reason for him to even acknowledge the Magic are a possibility for him right now, but what happens if the Clippers flame out in the playoffs this season? Chris Paul , Blake Griffin and J.J. Redick are all free agents this summer, so there is a real possibility that the team could be just months away from breaking up. It’s unclear how Rivers would feel about building something new in Los Angeles. 
  • It’s kind of difficult to evaluate Hennigan’s tenure. I liked his decision to tear everything down after Howard’s departure, and I liked some of his early draft picks and trades. Last offseason was extremely confusing, though, as the stated goal was to return to the playoffs but the reconfigured roster lacked shooting and had a logjam in the frontcourt. Analysts panned the Arron Afflalo for Evan Fournier move, but now that looks smart now. Not so smart: giving away Moe Harkless and Tobias Harris for essentially nothing. Turning Victor Oladipo and last year’s No. 11 pick into Terrence Ross and a late first-rounder doesn’t look great, either. 
  • If there is a change in leadership, there will be a bunch of important questions. What would it mean for Vogel and his coaching staff? What would the internal expectations be next season? It’s almost always a mistake to look at a team that has been out of the playoffs for a while and boldly declare it will get back there soon. Rebuilding is hard, as Hennigan’s front office has found out. 
CBS Sports Writer

James Herbert is somewhat fond of basketball, feature writing and understatements. A former season-ticket holder for the expansion Toronto Raptors, Herbert does not think the NBA was better back in the... Full Bio

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