By Ian Palmer
After almost three seasons in charge of the NBA’s Orlando Magic, head coach Jacque Vaughn was fired by the club on February 5. The first-time head coach was hired to help the franchise rebuild, but things haven’t gone to plan so far as the team was 15-37 at the time of the move. They were also 15-37 after 52 games last year. Rob Hennigan, the Magic’s general manager, announced the firing after the team had dropped 10 games in a row with several of them being heavy defeats. Assistant coach James Borrego was named as the squad’s interim coach while Hennigan searches for a fulltime replacement for Vaughn.
Hennigan released a statement which thanked Vaughn and wished him the best for the future, but things obviously weren’t working out for the 39-year-old coach since his overall record with the team stood at 58-158. Hennigan said the club needed to progress this season, but he didn’t feel there was any growth as they’re at the same stage they were last season. He added that the current situation should be viewed as a bump in the road though and not a complete road block. The GM could have let Vaughn go during the offseason, but decided to pick up the option year on his contract.
Hennigan remarked to the media, “There’s never an ideal time to make a change of this magnitude. As season progressed, we just felt like a change needed to be made and this was the time to do it. Plain and simple. We were trying to get our hands around the inconsistency we were seeing on the floor. There’s a lot of reasons for that. Jacque’s not the only reason for that.”
The Magic acquired several new players during the offseason such as free agent free agent Channing Frye and veteran Ben Gordon, but they haven’t gelled as a cohesive unit on the court. The squad has allowed at least 100 points against in 14 straight games and have been beaten in five of their past six home contests, where their current record stands at 5-17. In addition, they’ve been beaten by some of the NBA’s lesser lights such as the New York Knicks, Detroit Pistons, Los Angeles Lakers and Charlotte Hornets.
Hennigan and Vaughn were both hired three years ago when the franchise said it was going to rebuild and both were given at least one more year to try and straighten things out. However, Vaughn was the first to pay the price for the team’s performance this season. Alex Martins, Orlando’s CEO, said the team isn’t where he hoped it would be at the stage. He stated that he thought they’d turn the corner this year, but he’s still waiting for them to do it even though they’ve lost 89-man games due to injury this season and have started 11 different lineups so far. The Magic are listed by oddsmakers at 7500/1 to win the Southeast Division this year.