Orlando Magic Blog

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Release - Rotation ------ Splash?

Magic coach Brian Hill's job in jeopardy

Brian Hill is no longer guaranteed of keeping his job as head coach of the Orlando Magic, and might not know his fate for two to three weeks, the Orlando Sentinel has learned.

"People ask me if Brian Hill will be back as our coach. All I can say is that I have no answer for that right now," Magic President Bob Vander Weide told the Sentinel on Wednesday.

The Magic had said after the team was swept in the playoffs by the Detroit Pistons that they expected Hill to be back, but Vander Weide said on Wednesday, "Sometimes there are no quarantees in life."

Vander Weide said there are some philosophical issues between management and Hill, chiefly among those is the team's style of play.

"We have to see if there wasn't the opportunity to run the ball more. Style of play is one of the key things," Vander Weide said.

Hill could not be reached for comment.

Hill, 59, has two years remaining on a four-year contract he signed in May of 2005.

Vander Weide said he wants to take "two to three weeks" to "go through the process" of evaluating his team's past season and the job that Hill did.

Hill led the Magic to their first playoff appearance since 2003 after the young, erratic team finished 40-42.

The Magic started the season strong at 13-4 and were 22-14 in early January. But they slumped badly, partly because of injuries and losses to sub. 500 teams before rallying to clinch a postseason berth. As the No. 8 seed, they drew the No. l seeded Pistons, but were no match despite some competitive games.

"I can tell you there is a certain level of frustration the way we limped into the playoffs," Vander Weide said.

The Magic had said even while the team struggled that they still had confidence in Hill. General Manager Otis Smith told the Sentinel before the Magic faced the Houston Rockets on March 11 that he expected Hill to "fulfill his contractual obligations" through 2009.

Although he became a target of fan criticism --- one launched a FireBrianHill.org Website --- Hill had said he was not worried about "my job security."

But by the end of the season, Hill was receiving lukewarm endorsements from Vander Weide and Smith.

Vander Weide said after the Magic were ousted by the Pistons that he was "satisfied" with his team, and a day later, Smith said he "expected" Hill to return.

Smith said Sunday at RDV Sportsplex after the Magic met for the final time that the club might have to "take a look" at its offense to see "if we're getting the best out of our guys."

The Magic finished 27th (out of 30 teams) in scoring at 94.8 points per game and next-to-last in assists distributed and turnovers committed.

Center Dwight Howard and point guard Jameer Nelson ranked first and second in making turnovers. Nelson admitted he was disappointed in his play in his first season as a full-time starter.

Asked on 740 The Team during his weekly segment Wednesday if Nelson was the team's point guard of the future, Smith said it depended on the offense. "It depends on how we play. If we continue to play the style we've been playing, maybe not," Smith said. "But if we increase the tempo a little bit --- which we're talking about --- I think he can be."

Hill wouldn't say on Sunday whether the Magic needed to upgrade at point guard. In fact, when told that Smith said the Magic's biggest need this offseason was a scorer, Hill said he was not comfortable giving his opinion, adding he would "defer" to the general manager.

Hill was hired for the second time by the Magic on May 24, 2005, taking over for interim coach Chris Jent. Jent had replaced Johnny Davis, who was fired as head coach.

Hill had been fired by the Magic after a player revolt in 1997, ending a near four-year run in which Hill took Orlando to the NBA Finals in 1995.

In his first season back with the team in 2005-06, Hill led the Magic to a 36-46 record --- the same record they compiled under Davis and Jent the previous season.

"We're doing our due diligence," Vander Weide said. "We want to get to a point where we can say the Orlando Magic are competing for championships, and that means evaluating our playing personnel and our coaching personnel."


  • At 2:56 AM, Blogger OVERWADED said…

    Things just took a huge turn in our direction!

    Comments like that just can't be made. Something big should have to come of this.

    I won't believe it until it's all said and done, but this article is "night and day" from Bianchi's.

    What a difference one day can make.

    Vander Weide might be my hero!

  • At 9:28 AM, Blogger Matt said…

    My friends, I have been in situations like this a million times. They are setting the table for firing Hill, otherwise they would not come out and make statements that fall right into the areas of the head coach's authority.

  • At 11:18 AM, Blogger Big Figure said…

    Come'on vander weide!!!!!!!! Cold pizza just reported that hill's job is under fire,YEEEESSSSS!!!!!!!!!....It's going national now...This is exactly what we need,this article talks about bob and otis wanting to play faster,you need a new coach to do that right? And After yesterday bianchi should be fired,i'll never read another article by him.

  • At 12:16 PM, Blogger OVERWADED said…

    Call it a "conflict of playing styles". I think the Magic want to try and stick with Nelson, because he's young, has shown he can play better than he did this season, then add a scorer like Carter next to him, and get out and run a little.

    This team did look great last year on the offensive end in glimpses when we pushed the ball. It just rarely happened.

    Even though I was disappointed in Jameer's play last season, I often found myself questioning how much of his poor play had to do with the style of basketball he was being forced to play. I think it's a wise decision to NOT give up on Jameer just yet, rather replace his coach, and see what more we can get out of him and these young players.

    If you think back, when Jameer played his best basketball, was two seasons ago, when our record was 20-40 and Brian Hill kind of turned the team loose and just them play. I remember Matt mentioning this that following summer, saying we'd have problems, because Brian Hill would eventually tighten the reigns and implement his style of play. If you would have only put money on that one! ;)

    This is not to say that Jameer will work out as a starter, but who knows. He has a lot of talent; maybe a new coach will do the trick? But the only way Jameer can work out as a starter is; one, pass more, two, because of his size, he is at disadvantage on the defensive end, so he needs to be aloud to use his speed for his advantage on the offensive end. I understand he is a match up problem, but he can also create match up problems. We saw him do that 2 seasons ago, but last season we rarely saw that part of his game.

    Last, I think Hill has known about this. In the last few weeks of the season, he was deferring a lot of future questions to Otis which he used to not do so.

    And Matt, I agree, statements like these are not made without following through. As you said, the table is set, right now someone preparing the meal, it’s only a matter of time before dinner is served! FIRE BRIAN HILL! YES!!!!

    In the famous words of Vince McMahon and Donald Trump, Brian Hill will hear those sweet words; YOU'RE FIRED!!!!!

    That’ll be one of the best days of my year!

  • At 12:57 PM, Blogger Matt said…

    OVERWADED, I agree with your assessment of Jameer, which you have been consistent on. Jameer, if not forced to take the ball to the hoop all the time, and rather be able to pass and shoot when open (under Hill he became a reluctant shooter), could perform a lot better. His shooting percentages of last year, especially on 3-pointers were pretty high compared to this year's. However, in a run and gun offense, since you need to defend well and force turnovers before you could run, Keyon is a better fit, in my view.

    I have to correct my earlier statement as to Hill's firing. I think he would be allowed a dignified exit by being asked to resign.

  • At 2:00 PM, Blogger OVERWADED said…

    Yeah, I know they won't "fire him". They'll thank him, make it as respectful as possible, and say we're just going in a different direction.

    You're probably right with Jameer. I think he'd be a perfect 6th man anyway.

    Dooling would be my pick to start also, however, I don't know if they'll do it.

    Then there is Arroyo, who I think still hasn't been given a fair shot on this team. He's a lot like Jameer, but he's taller and passes more. The only thing Jameer has on him is a little better range on his shot. So the Magic need to make some decisions at the point guard position.

    If 3 wasn't a crowd, remember, we also have Diener sitting off of the bench. His game could really excel in an up tempo offense. Or should I just say it's too late for him here? I kind of hope not, because he always played well when he was given the chance; and God knows we could use his shooting.

    This was a problem at the beginning of the year. This is probably why Hill tried to force Dooling to play at the 2 spot for so long. They need to make some choices here, because if these guys keep playing scattered minutes, they'll never reach their full potential. The problem is, we pretty much have 4 quality back up point guards.

  • At 4:13 PM, Blogger Mike from Illinois said…

    Wow... I have to take back my post from yesterday about getting used to the idea of BHill coming back next year. Something is definitely up!

    I agree that this should be handled as dignified as possible. After all, outside of the basketball court, BHill is a quality person and a good family man. It's just that he's not a good basketball coach; he was given a second chance, but the Magic need to move in a different direction for the good of the team.

    I've been reading the various postings on the Sentinel blog on Mike Bianchi's column about retaining BHill. It's amazing that there's still a few people out there who refuse to recognize Hill's deficiencies as coach, and want him to come back.

    When the Magic finished 16-6 to end the 2005-06 season, they averaged 100 pts a game over those 22 games, using an uptempo offense. Jameer was very successful in that offense. I didn't think there was any way that BHill would switch to a half-court, structured offense, like Matt had predicted Hill would. Matt, you were right and I was wrong.

    As a result, we saw a very poorly run, poorly executed, turnover-prone offense, with players being played out of their natural positions.

    I now have hope the Magic will make the right decision and relieve Brian Hill of his coaching duties. Player personnel changes will be important too this off-season. Hopefully the right changes will be made to give all us die-hard Magic fans legitimate hope for next season... GO MAGIC!!

  • At 11:02 PM, Blogger BenQRock said…

    This all sounds like what happened to Rick Carlisle in Indiana. He was fired, but because he was such good friends with Larry Bird, they made it sound like he and the team agreed on the decision.

    I think Brian Hill is a good coach, but I'm not so sure that he's such a great fit with our team.

  • At 3:07 AM, Blogger OVERWADED said…

    As it stands today, Rick Carlisle is my coach of choice.

    However, "anybody but Brian Hill" is my coach of choice. Although, I've liked the teams Carlisle has coached.

  • At 3:25 AM, Blogger OVERWADED said…

    Maybe I just feel like saying "I told you so", or maybe I feel like shooting a little love in the direction of the Warriors; but was that first round series awesome or what?

    I'm not going to bother looking up Dirk's final stat line, as it was completely pathetic. If and when he is named MVP, is he not one of the most disappointing MVP's of all time? I mean really, they win 67 games in the regular season and this is how it ends.

    I've never seen a quality player "castrated" the way Dirk was. I watched him game after game, and it often looked like he was running away from the ball. He was playing scared. He didn't want to be responsible. The only time he'd even shoot the ball was if he was forced too.

    I've always like the guy. A 7 footer that can shoot the way he can is special. At times he reminds me of Larry Bird, but without the confidence and balls. I feel bad for him, as he'll be one of the most disappointing MVP's in the history of the NBA. It'll be interesting to see how he recovers, as the last 2 season endings have been pretty damn bad for the MAVS.

    As for the Warriors; those guys play "balls out". They put it all on the line, and they never stop. The next round should be interesting. They probably match up better with Utah. If they end up playing Houston, which I think they will, that series will have some of the weirdest match ups ever. But can you imagine if the Warriors advanced to the Conference Finals? What if the Suns beat the Spurs? We'd have a match up of the Suns and Warriors and the average scoring game would be 120+.

    After all my ramblings; a BIG CONGRATS to the Warriors! I know they gotta be jumpin' over at a GoldenStateOfMind.

  • At 9:23 AM, Blogger Matt said…

    My congratulations to Warriors, as well. They were structured and played like a team. They knew exactly what their roles were, and were not afraid to shoot. That, in my view, speaks volumes about what a quality coach could do. Was Golden State better than Mavs by count of individual players? Heck no, but as a team they were superior since they had a purpose and a plan to achieve it. Well done, guys.

  • At 11:10 AM, Blogger Big Figure said…

    DON NELSON is a prime example of getting the best out of your team. He has to be the best small-ball coach to ever live,good for the warriors. Style of play for the magic is going to be highly debated i see,so i'll throw this thought out there. Do we want to continue to post up dwight or do we want to run? Rick Carlisle is similar to bsh in the fact that they (the pacers) ran their offense through jermaine oneal on the low block,with good three point shooters on the floor at every position around him they were able to win 60 games one year. Rick Adelman is available and he did wonders with mike bibby after he left brian hills grizzlies,could this be de-ja-vous for adelman with jameer,sac ran at every chance because he made bibby play up-tempo basketball and sac became a western power challenging the lakers for a couple of years,could he do the same for jameer and the magic's offense? Which way do we go?

  • At 4:10 PM, Blogger Mike from Illinois said…

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • At 4:16 PM, Blogger Mike from Illinois said…

    It's really a pleasure to watch such well-coached teams like GS and CHI. I, too, give GS credit... they deserved to win this series.

    I think it was Dwyane Wade who said it best about Nowitzki when talking about last year's finals... Wade said of Nowitzki that if Nowitzki had played more like the leader he's supposed to be, maybe DAL would have beaten the Heat. I agree wholeheartedly. That applies to this just-completed series against GS as well.

  • At 4:18 PM, Blogger Mike from Illinois said…

    DAL had a great season, Nowitzki will probably be named MVP, but they had only 2 more post-season wins than the Magic did.

  • At 5:23 PM, Blogger OVERWADED said…

    As much as I dislike Wade, he is right about Dirk. If Dirk would just demand the ball, play aggressive, and force his way to the basket, he'd probably be shooting as many free throws as Wade.

    But whenever he took a shot, it was a fade away, over a guy 6 inches smaller than himself, or a 3 pointer, IF THAT; because he wasn't shooting much at all. He was vanishing in the 2nd half’s, not even attempting shots. Often he wasn’t even touching the ball in the offensive sets. I kind of felt bad for the guy, but it's his choice; some guys just aren't comfortable being "The Man".

    That does make me happy about some of the guys we have on our team. Think about our team in the playoffs. The first guy that comes to mind, Jameer, sure he has struggled. Sure he makes mistakes. Sure he’s outmatched at times. But he doesn’t let it get to him, in the sense that he shies away from playing.

    The other two guys that come to mind are Dwight and Darko. Dwight was up and down in the series, but he showed some great qualities in game 4 as wanting to be a leader. And Darko, man, playing with a sprained foot, in a system he doesn’t like, off the bench; he was a pro’s pro, playing aggressive, never hesitating.

    In regards in BIG’s question of what direction this team needs to go as far as style of play. I think we need to find a nice between. Think of the Spurs. The Spurs can run, and put some points on the board, but when the game gets bogged down, they drop the ball down into Duncan and play off of him. The Magic, with Dwight and Darko, will not be able to run the entire game. But, we should be able to get out and run a lot more than we did. Our biggest problem we had was the offense we ran, and the players we used with that offense. They just didn’t complement one another. I hope we can find a nice medium.

  • At 4:18 PM, Blogger Mike from Illinois said…

    Well said, OVERWADED.


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