Hill not over the hump
Magic General Manager Otis Smith told the Sentinel on two different occasions recently that Hill's job was safe even if the club failed to qualify for the postseason. Vander Weide called Smith's comments "appropriate."
Hill, who also has said he is not "worried about my job security," has two more years remaining on his contract.
"I'm not going to comment on that (Hill) or the arena. All I'm focusing on -- all I want the team focusing on -- are these last games," said Vander Weide, a Grand Rapids, Mich., resident who watched the Magic's 104-99 loss to the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night.
Vander Weide said not to read anything into his comments as they apply to Hill, adding, "What Otis has said is appropriate."
Vander Weide would not comment publicly on the franchise's quest to secure funding for a new arena, but those close to him say Vander Weide is extremely frustrated. A final vote by city and county commissioners is expected next month.
Vander Weide is expected to be designated as the Magic's owner when -- or perhaps if -- the arena deal gets done.
Along that line, he arranged a get-together at his Grand Rapids home Thursday so some of the "second-generation" family members who are inheriting ownership of the team from patriarch Rich DeVos "can get to know the guys (the players) better," Vander Weide said.
The Magic were expected to practice today in Philadelphia to prepare for Saturday afternoon's crucial game against the 76ers.
The Magic are in the No. 8 spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race and will face the No. 1-seeded Pistons in the first round if they hold on to their position. But Orlando's loss to Detroit, coupled with the Indiana Pacers' victory against the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night, left the Magic with a one-game lead over the Pacers.
The Magic are one game behind the No. 7 New Jersey Nets, who lost 94-76 to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night.
The Pacers and the Nets both hold the tiebreakers over the Magic, meaning the Magic can't finish with identical marks as those teams if they want to claim a playoff spot. The loss to the Pistons also meant that the Magic (36-42) cannot finish the season with a .500 record.
Their next victory will improve upon the record (36-46) they posted the past two seasons.
After playing the Sixers, the Magic will meet the Boston Celtics on Sunday at home. They then will face the Wizards in Washington on Tuesday night before wrapping up the regular season against the Miami Heat on Wednesday night at Amway Arena.