Orlando Magic Blog

Group Blog talking about the NBA 2009 Eastern Conference Champions. Due to the amazing success of the 2009 playoff run comments are now frequently deleted to kill offensive comments, incoherence, or asininity. Comments can no longer be anonymous and require either a Blogger or OpenID account.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Billy Donovan expected to become Orlando Magic's next coach - Orlando Sentinel : Orlando Magic Billy Donovan expected to become Orlando Magic's next c

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Iavaroni Off The Market!

May 30, 2007 4:11pm ET
Report: Grizzlies Agree to Three-Year Deal With Iavaroni
Michael C. Lewis of the SALT LAKE TRIBUNE writes, "The Memphis Grizzlies, looking for a coach who can help the team work its way up from the bottom of the NBA, have set a "major announcement" for Thursday amid newspaper reports they are hiring Phoenix Suns assistant Marc Iavaroni." NBA.com

The Wait Begins For New Coach And New Player!

May 27, 2007
Forget Vince, Magic may chase Rashard By KEN HORNACK SOUNDING OFF
Wherever it was that Otis Smith spent Tuesday night, the general manager of the Orlando Magic must have sported a grin that stretched halfway to, shall we say, Seattle.
For starters, his boast of a year ago that the Magic would stop being annual participants in the NBA Draft lottery proved to be correct, even if a 40-42 record and being the last of the eight Eastern Conference seeds wouldn't suggest the franchise is on the rise.
At least he didn't have to sit in a studio in Secaucus, N.J., while ESPN's insufferable Mark Jones tried to make small talk by prefacing a question to Larry Bird with an Oprah-esque command of "Let's chat."
And Smith was not standing in the line of fire of a vintage Tommy Heinsohn laser-like staredown after the Boston Celtics learned they'd be choosing fifth despite tanking games left and right in March and April.
But the best part, from a Magic point of view, was seeing the SuperSonics unexpectedly leap up to second in the draft order behind Portland.
Provided the Trail Blazers don't pull a LaRue Martin or Sam Bowie this time around and wisely select Ohio State center Greg Oden, two predictions can be made with a fair degree of certainty:
· The Sonics will take Texas forward Kevin Durant.
· Cue Magic public-address announcer Paul Porter: "At one forward, 6-10, from Alief Elsik High School, Rashard Lewwwwwwwwwis."
You'd better believe the Sonics, assuming they're still calling Seattle home next season, aren't bringing in Durant just to have him accumulate bench minutes as a rookie at the same pace J.J. Redick did in Orlando.
And had Lewis accepted a contract extension the Sonics offered him in February which would have him signed through 2010-11, Durant might be looking at backing up a 20-point scorer who only turns 28 in August.
Lewis is two years younger than Vince Carter. He canned almost the same number of 3-point shots as Carter this season despite playing in 22 fewer games.
No, he hasn't played with a young big man comparable to Dwight Howard. In Lewis' second season with the Sonics, their leading rebounder was Horace Grant, who no longer fit in the Magic's plans. The following year, it was the fossilized Patrick Ewing.
Then again, what has being in New Jersey with Jason Collins in the middle done to prepare Carter for the possibility of life as a complement to Howard?
You can count on one hand, with fingers left over, the number of times the Magic haven't had a first-round draft pick. Their choice this year, which will be 15th overall, went to Detroit in the trade for Darko Milicic.
Maybe that's just as well. The last thing the Magic need is another Johnny Taylor, Reece Gaines, Ryan Humphrey or Steven Hunter clogging up roster and salary-cap space -- although Matt Harpring, who was taken by them with the No. 15 pick in 1998, is now a valuable reserve for the Utah Jazz.
Whoever their coach is when training camp rolls around ought to be clamoring for is a veteran who can stop Howard from getting double-teamed and triple-teamed so often.
Thanks to the fortuitous bounces of some ping-pong balls, Lewis could well be the Magic's man. Sources: Magic contact agent for Donovan
The UF coach says he hasn't spoken with the team, which wants to check his interest. The Orlando Magic have contacted the agent for University of Florida Coach Billy Donovan, trying to gauge his interest in becoming their next head coach.His interest, though, remained unclear Tuesday because neither Donovan nor anyone from the Magic was discussing the issue. Much of the Magic staff was at the NBA Predraft Camp that opened Tuesday at Disney's Wide World of Sports. Donovan was in Destin for the Southeastern Conference spring meetings.
"I haven't talked to those guys," Donovan told the Tampa Tribune in Destin Tuesday afternoon. Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley also said Tuesday that Donovan was "close" to agreeing to a contract extension to remain in Gainesville.Two NBA front office executives attending the camp confirmed that the contact had been made with the agency representing Donovan, although neither was certain of Donovan's interest. Donovan had spoken with the Memphis Grizzlies about their vacancy but he declined a formal interview.Magic General Manager Otis Smith, who fired coach Brian Hill last week to create the job opening, declined Tuesday to make any comment on his coaching search.Donovan may be at the top of their list of candidates -- he is coming off back-to-back NCAA titles at Florida -- but they also are expected to interview, or at least inquire about, several others, including Suns assistant Marc Iavaroni, Pistons assistant Terry Porter, former Heat head coach Stan Van Gundy and Spurs assistant coach P.J. Carlesimo.Another possibility for the Magic could be veteran Larry Brown, who has won both an NBA title in Detroit and an NCAA championship at Kansas. Brown, now a front-office executive in Philadelphia, said Tuesday that he could envision a return to coaching, but he declined to discuss the Magic opening or any other specific jobs.The Magic already have asked and received permission from the Suns to talk with Iavaroni.Carlesimo won't be available until after the San Antonio Spurs are finished with their playoff run."Marc is ready to become a head coach," said Suns Coach Mike D'Antoni. "He will do a great job wherever he goes. Anyone would fit in Orlando with the young talent they have."The Grizzlies, one of the five teams with a head-coaching vacancy, are expected to target Iavaroni, according to another official at the draft camp.Although Donovan doesn't have any NBA coaching experience, his success in Gainesville makes him extremely attractive to the Magic.And even competing NBA coaches believe he could overcome the inexperience at this level."If he took the Orlando job, he would be successful," said Celtics Coach Doc Rivers, who coached the Magic for 41/2 seasons. "He has the ability to be a great teacher and still allow his players to play with some freedom. That's a great combination."Rivers said Tuesday that he had no idea if Donovan would be interested in coaching the Magic, but he believed strongly that he would succeed despite all the failed attempts by previous college coaches trying to make the jump."I've never bought into that thinking that they can't make it in the NBA. It's still just basketball. If you're a good coach and you have talent, you can be successful,'' Rivers said. "He [Donovan] can coach. To win back-to-back national titles tells you a lot. He would be a good hire."Tim Povtak can be reached at tpovtak@orlandosentinel.com.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Hill's Gone, What's Next?

I predicted long before Hill was fired that he would be gone, as it shows in the following post on Whit Watson’s blog on May 13, 2007:

“As for Brian Hill, I respectfully disagree. I am actually baffled as to how Mike Bianchi and other Sentinel writers cannot see the obvious shortcomings of Hill as a coach. I don't intend to state that long laundry list again. Hill has failed miserably to lead the Magic, and he can't blame anybody more than himself by being so pigheaded. It is time for Hill to go, and he will. And you know what is funny? I don't feel bad at all for the guy. He deserves it. In two stints with the Magic he brought a lot of turmoil and chaos upon the organization. Beneath his respectful appearance there is a hidden streak of selfishness of a little man who holds grudge and acts upon it when he gets a chance.”

The reasons for Hill's firing was more than what has been announced. The main reasons have been two fold:

1 – The Magic needed the public support for the new arena, which is an issue a lot larger than Hill’ fate, or anybody's for the matter, and it was obvious that the public is outraged by Hill’s ineptness.
2 – The Magic needed to create excitement and give the public newly generated hopes in order to keep, and even expand, their season’s ticket holders base and overall sales.

The Magic organization had no choice but to let Hill go. However, it is ridiculous that Otis Smith is taking credit for the decision. After all, this is the same guy who has been supporting Hill all along for one of the two reasons: 1) He in fact was in agreement with Hill’s decisions, especially with regard to not starting Darko or the guards’ rotations; 2) He did not have the authority to impose his views on Hill. In all honesty, I cannot rule any of the above-referenced scenarios out thus I will assume a middle ground by asserting that it probably was a combination of both. The question then becomes why Smith should claim the credit? My answer is because Bob Vander Weide did not want to be blamed for the responsibility of firing Hill for a second time.

Now let’s close the book on Hill and look forward to the future. I am in agreement with Whit Watson’s assertion in his latest article on his blog that Magic would be best served by a coach who is not of the old guard who brings a system with him to impose. The new coach should be a believer of a fast pace basketball but yet flexible enough to adjust based on the strengths of the Magic’s roster. I am intrigued by Billy Donovan's prospect, but I doubt that would happen. My preference would be Marc Iavaroni who has the resume and the background of working with some top notch coaches from all sides of the isles who can devise a system befitting this Magic team. He also on his resume has shares in development of some big men like Ilguskos and Stoudemire.

Magic should be cautious on their summer dealings. Any deal that results in loss of Darko is unacceptable. In order to bring in a proven shooter, Magic should open the bank with no fear of going slightly over the salary cap. While working on hiring the new coach, they should convince Grant to sign for the veteran's minimum since he would be an asset in any fast paced offense. They should also take a fresh look at Travis Diener through summer leagues and other venues. He looks a lot like Steve Nash, and given a chance, may develop into an asset. After all, Nash was not that kind of flashy player when he initially joined the league.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Brian Hill You Are The Weakest Link,Goodbye!!!!!

Brian Hill will not return as head coach of the Orlando Magic the Orlando Sentinel learned this afternoon. The club is soon expected to announce that he will be offered a position with the organization.The Magic had said in early March when the team was struggling 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.

Hill had even said he was not worried about "my job security."But by the end of the season, Hill was receiving lukewarm endorsements from President Bob Vander Weide and Otis Smith.Vander Weide said after the Magic were ousted by the Detroit Pistons that he was "satisfied" with his team, and a day later, Smith said he "expected" Hill to return.Then, just before Hill and the Magic decided to part, a club official said Hill was "frustrated" with the job.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 was fired the first time 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.Last season, the Magic jumped to a 13-4 start but faded badly before making a run to barely reach the playoffs. They were swept in four games in the first round by the Pistons.Hill became a target of fan criticism on sports-radio talk shows. One fan started a FireBrianHill.org Web site.There was speculation that Hill and Smith had some philosophical differences, most notably with the style of offense and Hill's use of certain players.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.Since Chuck Daly resigned in 1999, the Magic have had four head coaches -- Doc Rivers, Davis, Jent and Hill.As far as replacements for Hill, veteran coaches Larry Brown, Lenny Wilkens, Stan Van Gundy, Jeff Van Gundy and Mike Fratello could be available. Veteran Rick Carlisle was fired this season by the Indiana Pacers. Phoenix assistant Marc Iavaroni and Dallas assistant Sam Vincent are also possible candidates. The Indianapolis Star reported today that Stan Van Gundy has turned down an offer to coach the Pacers, and the Charlotte Observer in North Carolina is reporting that Vincent will be named the Bobcats coach by Friday, barring unforeseen circumstances.Florida Gators Coach Billy Donovan, who has led the Gators to back-to-back national championships, has expressed a desire to one day coach in the NBA. But Donovan apparently is waiting on a contract extension from the school.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

With New Coach Or Not, Magic Will Look Different...

Jameer Nelson will be flying up and down the floor, leading the fast and furious Magic.
With Dwight Howard on his left, Trevor Ariza on his right.
J.J. Redick will be stationed in the corner, salivating at taking another open 3-pointer.
Darko Milicic, at the top of the key, will be looking to shoot or deftly pass to Vince Carter or Gerald Wallace on a backdoor cut.
Off the bench come Keyon Dooling, Hedo Turkoglu, Grant Hill, Tony Battie and P.J. Brown.
Is this what the "new" Magic could look like next season (with some salary-cap magic, obviously)?
Who's on the sideline calling the plays?
Is it Brian Hill or somebody else?
Ah, our crystal ball is . . . fading. Maybe we'll find out by The Fourth of July.
If we believe that at least some of the issues the Magic are trying to resolve with Hill truly are court-related, then the Magic are going to go through changes.
Changes stylistically, changes strategically, changes philosophically.
Hello, ball movement and spacing.
Pick up the tempo and --- contrary to popular belief --- you can actually committ fewer turnovers than in the half-court, where things get stagnant.
The Magic want to turn Howard into Amare Stoudemire East.
They could use Steve Nash, sure, which is why, I'd guess, there's a lot of debate at RDV Sportsplex over Nelson between Hill and GM Otis Smith as the point guard.
And throw Darko into that discussion. Just what do the Magic have if they re-sign him and allow him to expand his natural game?
Ariza curiously was little, if any, factor in the playoffs. He's raw offensively with some turnover issues, pretty good defensively and offers non-stop hard-nosed hustle. Doesn't he just need to play through mistakes? Same goes for Redick, a gifted shooter who seldom had help needed to spring him open for shots.
Aren't the Magic trying to figure out what they ARE?
Isn't this what this "evaluation" of Hill is all about?
Or is it?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Could GHill's Future Be With Pistons, Wiz, Mavs or Rockets? Reunion with T-Mac?

Although he'd prefer to re-sign with the Magic if he keeps playing, Grant Hill says he will listen to free-agent offers this summer. There will be some suitors calling, but likely asking him to play for the one-year veteran's minimum.
Among the teams that Grant could consider:
Houston: How about Hill-Tracy McGrady II? They never really got to play together in Orlando because of Hill's injuries. T-Mac and Yao need a third scorer, and Hill would fit the bill starting ahead of Dukie Shane Battier. Battier and Hill would be a terrific combination of offensive firepower and defense.
Dallas: Owner Mark Cuban always has beeen a Hill fan. With his team getting upset early, Cuban likely will be looking for a point guard and another veteran to help out MVP Dirk Nowitzki.
Washington: The Wizards you say? Hill would be returning to his old stomping grounds near Maryland and would be closer to his mother and father. He has an affinity for the city, recenting introducing presidential candidate Barack Obama at a D.C. fundraiser. A lineup of Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, Atawn Jamison and Hill would be formidable --- and give them depth. Hmmm. Grant Hill providing injury protection?
Detroit: Well, this would be the most obvious choice for Grant, a Motown homecoming. The fans still adore him, largely because the Pistons' sign-and-trade deal in 2000 handed them Ben Wallace and, later, a title. The Pistons could strengthen their bench, pairing Hill with Antonio McDyess.
Other possible suitors for Hill: Toronto (Grant's wife is Canadian; OK, it's a stretch); Boston (he's tight with Doc Rivers, who needs veterans desperately); Miami (could help take some of the load off D-Wade) and San Antonio (the Spurs usually land a quality player who wants to play with Tim Duncan).
Then again, don't rule out ABC, TNT or ESPN competing for Grant.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

More Rumors...

After Tonight, Vince Carter's Next Game Could Be In Magic Uniform. If the New Jersey Nets are knocked out of the playoffs tonight, the next time you see Vince Carter on a basketball floor he could be wearing a Magic uniform.
I have to believe that the Magic will start courting Carter --- who can become a free agent this summer -- once the flag drops July 1. Make that at 12:01 a.m.
And they should.
Has VC had a largely forgettable series against the Cavs?
No doubt.
Did he hurt his value?
But can he help a young team like the Magic get a seed higher than No. 8 by carrying them through some lulls during a regular season?
The Nets say they will try to keep Carter, but not likely at maximum salary. (I think VC is going to be surprised that no one will offer him another max deal).
GM Rod Thorn also says he wants to execute a sign-and-trade if he can't work something out with Carter.
He likely wants a big and another player.
We've had this scenario working early in the season: Magic re-sign Darko Milicic and ship him to the Nets for a deal involving VC.
Even if they gave Darko $8 mill to start his new contract, they would have to add another player to a deal with the Nets to match VC's salary. Maybe Keyon Dooling, who makes $3 million.
That would add up to about $11 mill --- and that's a top-end figure for Carter, who is on the wrong side of 30 as they say.
Carter would, in essence, replace Grant Hill in the lineup.
Yes, the Magic would lose Milicic, breaking up the proposed Darko-Dwight duo. It's a risk, sure, because Darko could end up becoming a really good player.
Maybe the Magic could send Hedo Turkoglu and his $7 million salary and Dooling, but that's not what the Nets want most likely.
There's this from the New York Post's Marc Berman on Carter, who likely will seek a max deal. "The Nets don't appear interested in going that high, and Thorn was only lukewarm last week when he talked about re-upping with Carter, who's had a miserable second-round series and was the goat of Game 4. The prevailing wisdom is that Thorn will look to execute a sign-and-trade with another team and get back a big-man banger and a young player.
"We're going to try to sign him," Thorn told WFAN. "We'd like to bring back our base if that's possible. It may not be possible. If we can't sign Carter, the ways Carter can leave is go someplace else under the cap or sign-and-trade. The more likely is to go in a sign-and-trade someplace. Who knows what's going to happen there?" Rumor mill: Milicic headed to Golden State?Posted on May 15, 2007 11:39:47 AM
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Tim Kawakami, columnist from the San Jose Mercury News, writes of the possibility of the Magic signing and trading forward Darko Milicic this summer to the Golden State Warriors for shooting guard Jason Richardson:
"I've been told by one NBA source that the Warriors would be strong contenders for Milicic if they offered Richardson, since Orlando General Manager Otis Smith was a Warriors executive when Richardson was drafted and remains fond of him.
Chris (Mullin), if you need to trade Richardson to get a big player, would you do it?
'No,' Mullin said recently. 'I mean... no. Top recruits won't stop Billy from a Magical exitPosted on May 15, 2007 10:50:20 AM
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Billy Donovan won't leave the Florida Gators for a chance to coach in the NBA because he just landed another blue-chip recruit?
Uh, Donovan talked to the Memphis Grizzlies just a few weeks ago. I have to believe that he had Houston point guard Jai Lucas on the line already.
Lucas signed with the Gators, but we don't know if Donovan promised Lucas he would be at UF forever.
I suspect he might have said something like, "I plan on it," or "I expect to be here."
Because how can Lucas demand a non-NBA compete clause from Donovan when Lucas no doubt will have eyes on going pro in a year or two?
Did Billy announce he no longer is "intrigued" by the NBA when he signed Lucas? Did he tell NBA teams searching for coaches to stop calling him? I must have missed it.
Today's players know that's a risk. They know how the game is played. They won't guarantee Donovan that they will stay and play for four years --- and won't ask for the same from him.
Corey Brewer, Al Horford, Joakim Noah and Taurean Green all left Donovan with eligibility remaining.
And just because Donovan landed a big-time recruiting class that has all the Mel Kipers of basketball talking crazily doesn't mean he won't leave.
You think college coaching stars such as John Calipari and Rick Pitino didn't have top-flight recruits coming in when they departed to the pros?
What Billy did is simply add leverage with this all-star recruiting class. Now it might take even more for an NBA team to get him.
Besides, if Donovan did take an NBA job, he can say that he left the Gators' cupboard completely full. And considering he already has delivered two NCAA titles, even the most ardent Gators can't be too upset with him. Magic can have Artest if they wantPosted on May 15, 2007 10:11:14 AM
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Magic GM Otis Smith, when he used to talk, told me during the season that the squeaky-clean franchise might have to get down and dirty.
The Magic always have been extremely careful about bringing in players of suspect character --- maybe too careful, too cautious, at the price of talent. They've had enough choir boys over the years, largely because owner Rich DeVos wanted choir boys.
What does it say about the Magic that they have Dwight Howard and Darko Milicic --- and still need an enforcer?
Smith doesn't want knuckleheads on his team who could wind up needing bail money, but bringing in a hard-nosed, bad boy with some attitude is more of a possibility.
If a player's past isn't too checkered, you might see him in a Magic jersey.
This team needs somebody unafraid to kick a teammate in the butt ---- and knock over a lockeroom chair after a loss and an opponent who is making too many jump shots.
Smith won't go as far as Ron Artest, whom the Sacramento Kings are desperate to move.
Artest is sort of the Magic's baseline for badness; everyone else they might consider.
(They could trade for Artest easily, offering Hedo Turkoglu, as their salaries just about match. The Kings would love to have good-guy Turk back. The Magic wouldn't or shouldn't part with Turk in this case. Bottom line: Bringing in Artest is madness).
What kind of guys am I talking about?
Rasheed Wallace. Zach Randolph. Stephen Jackson. Ricky Davis.
Those guys are a handful for refs, coaches, teammates and, especially, team P.R people, but they are tough and talented and have a 'tude. You just have to find some head cases you can live with.
The Magic brought in Steve Francis -- who clearly fits the description of trouble --- to give Orlando some spunk. True, the move backfired.
But I contend it was more of Francis' erratic play on the court that got him shipped out and eventually led to his clashes with Brian Hill. You think he'd be a New York Knick if he returned to all-star form, despite his penchant to give management a migraine?
The Magic are hoping to play it smart as they try to toughen up. Sentinel Basketblog

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Billy D will listen to magic...

We contacted Florida Gators Coach Billy Donovan on Friday night, and while he said the Magic haven't contacted him, it's clear that he'll listen.
Billy said he remains "intrigued" by the idea of coaching in the NBA."I've always been intrigued by the NBA just because it's all basketball," he said, noting the NCAA's restrictions on offseason practice. "That's the one thing that's always been the case for me is I love being in the gym.
Heck, he already has talked to the Memphis Grizzlies.
If the Magic part ways with Brian Hill --- why they'd do that is beyond me after he steered them into the playoffs -- they should at least call Billy's cell.
If they need the number, I've got it. Got it from somebody weeks ago in Kentucky.
I kid.
The Magic would be foolish not to have Billy on speed dial.
To recap, the pros and cons of a Donovan deal:
1. No one in basketball is hotter and can make a bigger splash for the Magic than Billy D. Not Larry Brown, not Mike Fratello, not even Phil Jackson. Want to freshen the air after this Brian Hill soap opera, well . . . .heeeeeeeeere's Billy!
2. And this might very well be No. 1: Donovan can sew up that nagging arena deal. And if for some unfathomable reason the venues proposal is nixed, the Magic would have no problem finding a new home (try Oklahoma City and the Ford Center) with Dwight and Billy as headliners.
3. If the Magic are complaining about Hill not playing uptempo basketball, they can find that in Billy's playbook.
4. With Dwight Howard, Darko Milicic, Trevor Ariza and JJ Redick, Donovan basically will still have a college team.
5. Donovan lives in Gainesville. The Magic can save on moving expenses, and put the savings toward the new arena.
1. None that I can think of. Please, Magic fans and Brian Hill have suffered long enough. From Brian Schmitz's Basketblog

Thursday, May 10, 2007

More Billy Donovan Theories...

Call it common sense.
Or call it a conspiracy theory.
But here's my latest thought:
The Magic are buying time to pursue Billy Donovan, which would allow them to wipe away the Brian Hill mess in one stroke.
It's the only way, the most logical way, to make everthing right.
Present Billy as the new Magic coach, and Brian Hill is reduced to a footnote.
It's unfair to Brian, but that's business.
I'm thinking that this is less about Hill and all about landing the arena deal, i.e. securing the future of Magic basketball.
If the Magic bring on Billy Ball, they will again regain some footing as an NBA darling, for no coach can make a bigger splash than Donovan. They'd have Billy, salary-cap room and Dwight Howard, which equals an arena-ribbon cutting ceremony, uptick in corporate sponsor sales and sell-outs.
But the Magic have needed time to pull off the coup.
They need time to smoothe-talk Donovan, especially if Billy is playing golf in Ireland as some suspect. They need time to smoothe-over the hurt that GM Otis Smith will feel if they have to let him go because Donovan might want total control. Or they need time to talk Billy down from wanting to be GM, hoping he and Smith can work together.
Come on. Why else does team prez Bob Vander Weide say it will take two to three weeks to make a decision on Hill, who the DeVos family has known for more than a decade?
I suspect that Brian knows the score already, in some form.
Hill is a company guy, and if Vander Weide says that the future of the organization hinges on the arena deal and that Billy Ball is the only thing that can surely save it . . . .Hill will have to go play along.
Maybe he's not in limbo. Maybe he knows the plan. Maybe Smith does, too.
It's why they can't utter a peep.
So in a week or so, the Magic call a two-for-one news conference.
Hill says he's retiring, and then an hour later, out pops Billy.
Isn't this the Magic way? They announced John Weisbrod's "resignation" as GM, and then hours later followed with Brian Hill II.
And remember how they cleaned up the toxic waste after the first Brian Hill stint? After the players ran him off, the Magic brought Chuck Daly out of retirement for $5 million a year and then added Dr. J as a community ambassador. Both moves were made to fumigate the stink surrounding Hill's ouster.
See a pattern here?
Can we say that perhaps this latest situation is not about Brian Hill and is bigger than Brian Hill? Does any one buy that the problems, as outlined by Vander Weide, are "style of play" and Hill's questionable use of personnel?
This, maybe, just maybe, is about Billy Ball saving the day --- and the franchise. From Brian Schmitz's Basketblog

Friday, May 04, 2007

Whit Watson on Hill

Whit Watson, for whom this writer reserves a considerable deference, has posted an article about Hill on his blog, the link to which you will find below:


Whit has taken a smart angle to the issue advocating, as there are probably a lot that we don't know, it would be hard to judge Hill's performance. I have posted my comments on Whit's blog as quoted below:

"Whit:Like all your articles, this one is full of insight, and yet disappointing at parts. Like "...we have officially moved from internet venom to news story."? It should not have been an Internet (with upper case I, please) venom (and why venom?) if the news media were not so biased. It has been documented repeatedly on these venomous! Internet forums where Hill's shortfalls have been based on what we know, and have witnessed on the courts. Why would it matter that there are things that we don't know? Can we make a judgment based on what we know? We do it all the time. We pass judgment on foreign wars without being privy to the details of what is not available to the public, and without having a full understanding of the regions of conflict. Don’t we? Is knowledge and attention to details enough to make a good coach? Remember the movie Amadeus where the maestro was so envious of this small giggly composer who had every thing in his head? You have mentioned correctly that sometimes, feel, instinct and intuition are what is required, and I may add, what separates below average or average from above-average and great. Why is Brian Hill ranked last amongst the coaches of 16 teams which made to the play-offs? Is it bogus that Brian Hill's book is so predictable that all coaches will adapt when playing against Magic? Is it false that Hill is so inflexible in adjusting during games, or from games to games in series, and that is why his coached teams have been swept so many times? Is it a myth that his coaching record, other than the Shaq/Penny era, is horrendous? Isn’t it a fact that his communications skills is so limited that he has a hard time to establish productive dialogue with players in order to guide and inspire them effectively? Isn’t it a fact that Magic failed to prepare appropriately against inferior teams, thus losing when they shouldn’t?

I can go on and on but I will finish with one note. Public is not always right as they may not always be properly informed – exactly the point of your article – but a high majority - I would say in high 80% based on comments on Orlando Sentinel’s blog – cannot be wrong.

Thank you for your everlasting walk on the lines of honesty and intellect which this posting of yours also remains on the same lines."

I encourage you to read the post since like all Whit's posts it shows intellect and insight while taking a tough angle to the matter on hand. I also encourage you to post your comments on his blog, as well.

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."

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Mike Bianchi just brought the Sentinel to a new low...

Brian Hill is deserving of another year

The caller on the sports talk radio show called Brian Hill "the worst coach in the NBA" Monday and said Hill must go.

The e-mailer writes that Brian Hill "must be replaced" if the Magic are to progress as a franchise.

Even Magic President Bob Vander Weide, when asked following the season-ending playoff loss to the Detroit Pistons if Hill would return as coach, gave a resoundingly vague vote of non-confidence.

Answered Vander Weide without really answering: "Let me just say I'm satisfied with where we are right now."

And let me just say: ARE YOU PEOPLE OUT OF YOUR MINDS?

Fire Brian Hill?

The Magic ought to be begging Brian Hill to come back next season and coach this mediocre team back into the playoffs.

Please, Coach Hill, come back and we promise we'll get you a shooting guard who's had less than five surgeries on his ankle.

We promise we'll get you a point guard who is taller than Danny DeVito.

We promise we'll draft a player who actually wants to play on this continent.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not convinced Brian Hill is a great NBA coach. I can question his substitution policy with the best of them, but this talk about firing him after only two years is pure insanity. Why would you fire him for getting the most out of the team he inherited? You heard me: He got all he could out of a young, fundamentally flawed roster. He coached a mediocre team to a mediocre record and somehow got the Magic into the playoffs for the first time in four years.

The Magic don't need better coaching; they need better players. They have one starter (Dwight Howard) who could start for the Pistons. And let's not forget two of their promising young building blocks -- Darko Milicic and Trevor Ariza -- were buried on the bench of their former teams and then jettisoned. These are works in progress, not elite-level players.

And is it the coach's fault his players can't make free throws? Hello, isn't this the NBA? By the time you get to this level, shouldn't you have already mastered this rudimentary skill?

The game's greatest coaches would be .500 with this roster. In fact, the greatest coaches in the game have fared no better than Brian Hill this year. Pat Riley has already been blown out of the playoffs and Phil Jackson is on the verge of being eliminated, too. And in case you haven't noticed, Jackson has the greatest player in the game -- Kobe Bryant -- and still can't get past the first round.

Besides, can you imagine the message of mismanagement it would send if the Magic fired Brian Hill -- again! Didn't the Magic bring back Hill because they felt guilty about prematurely firing him a decade ago? How would it look if they prematurely fired the same coach twice? They would not only be portrayed as inept, but heartlessly inept at that.

Furthermore, haven't the Magic changed coaches and GMs enough over the past three years? Isn't it time to have a plan -- and stick to it? Change is not always a good thing. Ask the Minnesota Timberwolves, who fired Flip Saunders three years ago because all he could do was take the team to the playoffs in eight of his nine seasons. They haven't been back to the postseason since they fired him.

Brian Hill got the Magic to the playoffs this season. That's at least a baby step in the right direction.

Don't give him the boot.

Give him a raise.

Give him some time.

Most of all, give him some players.