Yet even if the rumblings are true about Hill's approval rating with his players sinking to 1997 levels, there are no indications that any dissatisfaction Dwight Howard has with Hill is prompting the 21-year-old future of the franchise to start plotting a Shaquille O'Neal-style departure from Central Florida.
"He doesn't want to leave Orlando," one Magic insider insists. "He just wants the ball."
Howard is averaging just 10.6 shots per game and has attempted 10 or more shots in just three of nine games since rumbling for 30 points and 15 rebounds in a home win over Utah on March 14. His free-throw woes and turnover problems -- Howard averages 3.9 giveaways per game, compared to 3.8 for a guy like Steve Nash who has the ball in his hands all night -- have made Hill reluctant to go to Howard in the fourth quarter.
The Magic (or at least Hill) appear to be operating on the premise that making the playoffs, at any cost, is the priority over Howard developing better skills dealing with double teams and making use of his considerable physical gifts.
It's still considered a lock, though, that Howard will sign a max contract extension this summer just like LeBron James did last summer in Cleveland.
Perhaps he'll opt for the three-year extension introduced by James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh as opposed to the full five-year extension preferred by Carmelo Anthony, but it's difficult to imagine a scenario where Howard leaves so many millions on the table when he'd still have to play out two more seasons to get to unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2009.
Brian Hill "Bothered" By Rumors
Magic Coach Brian Hill tells us he is not "worried" about whether he will be back as coach next season, meaning he has been given an assurance by management.
Hill said he's made mistakes this season, but believes the slumping Magic will improve once they mature.
Hill, though, said hearing about published reports (ESPN The Mag) intimating there's a rift between him and the players "bothers me.
"Of course it does. I'm human."
Despite his critics, Hill says he is confident in "my job security" whether the Magic reach the playoffs or not.
An item in ESPN The Magazine said that Magic players unanimously wanted Hill out and that Hill had a sour relationship with star Dwight Howard.
Hill and GM Otis Smith said that was news to them.