From the Magic:
Scott Skiles has resigned as head coach of the Orlando Magic, General Manager Rob Hennigan announced today. The search for a new head coach will begin immediately.
"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."
"While we understand it was a challenging season, we reluctantly have accepted Scott's (Skiles) resignation," said Hennigan. "We appreciate Scott instilling a culture of accountability and certainly wish him and his family well."
According to the Orlando Sentinel's Josh Robbins, Skiles had been unhappy for months and there was a "disconnect" between him and general manager Rob Hennigan. One issue was reportedly that Skiles did not believe Elfrid Payton was the team's point guard of the future, and another was that he reportedly thought the team was soft and unprofessional. Sirius XM NBA radio's Justin Termine reported that Skiles told Hennigan in January that he had made a mistake taking the job, but then backtracked.
Five things to know:
1. If you're surprised, you're not alone. It's unusual for a coach to quit almost a month after the end of his team's season. There were no recent reports about this being a possibility, despite what Skiles called a "frustrating" year during his end-of-season press conference.
When Skiles was hired, it seemed like he'd be around for a few years. The Magic wanted an experienced coach who could give a young team a defensive identity. He had a track record of helping teams improve quickly, and he had ties to Orlando dating back to his five years playing there. The Magic definitely did not intend to be looking for a replacement so soon.
2. High expectations strike again. Skiles and Hennigan both said before the season started that the goal was to make the playoffs. Orlando fell way short of that, going 35-47 and finishing 11th in the Eastern Conference. This was a 10-win improvement over 2014-15, but everyone involved wanted more.
The way that the season unfolded was more troubling than the record. The Magic started 19-13, with Skiles winning Eastern Conference coach of the month in December, and then they fell apart in January. The collapse was odd -- you would think that a developing team would improve after a couple of months with a new coach, not go the other direction.
3. The Magic have to decide what kind of team they want to be. Orlando will begin its coaching search after several big-name candidates -- Tom Thibodeau, Scott Brooks, Luke Walton and Dave Joerger -- have already been hired. Still, it has options. If Hennigan decides he wants the team to be more exciting and offensive-minded, Mike D'Antoni is available. The Magic interviewed Mike Woodson and Mark Jackson last year, and they're still on the market.
The most logical choice, though, seems obvious: ex-Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel. He has experience getting a young team into the playoffs and then building it into a contender. He has proven that he can make almost any group of players into a solid defensive unit. These were the qualities that Orlando liked in Skiles when he was hired.
4. This could impact free agency. Orlando created significant cap space on trade-deadline day when it sent Tobias Harris to the Detroit Pistons and Channing Frye to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Magic have been linked to Dwight Howard in free agency, and they could also chase guys like Al Horford, Mike Conley, DeMar DeRozan and Chandler Parsons. Perhaps this sudden coaching change will project an image of instability, perhaps the right hire will attract free agents' attention. Either way, players pay attention to this stuff.
Whoever Orlando hires, he will have to be on the same page as the front office when it comes to team-building. Coaches don't necessarily have to be a huge part of the decision-making process when it comes to roster decisions, but it sounds like the Payton issue was problematic for Skiles. The Magic will want someone who believes in the road that the team is taking as it rebuilds.
5. What a crazy, volatile profession this is. ESPN's Tom Haberstroh noted that, with Skiles' resignation, 11 teams no longer employ the coach they had at the beginning of this season. I suppose that means that we shouldn't be stunned by news like this, even when it appears to come out of nowhere.