Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 5

Feb 06

3-on-3: Reactions to Jacque Vaughn’s firing


Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The coaching hot seat got too warm in Orlando. The pressure was on Jacque Vaughn to make progress, or else. Which available coaches would make for good fits? Our experts break it down.

1. Fair or unfair: Jacque Vaughn was fired by the Magic.

Joe Atmonavage: Fair? I am not sure the way the Magic went about leaking information that Vaughn had a short lease was fair. But let’s face it, the Magic have some nice talent and really good pieces — 2-16 in their last 18 games indicates something is wrong. Vaughn lost his team and it was fair to cut ties with him.

Zachary Bennett: Fair. Sure, Vaughn may have had to deal with Aaron Gordon, Victor Oladipo, and Nikola Vucevic missing stretches of games throughout the first few months of the season, but Orlando has won merely five games since December 19. During that time, Vaughn’s group suffered losses to some of the NBA’s worst teams, including Philadelphia, Detroit, Utah, and the Lakers.

Jacob Frankel: Fair. The talent on the Magic roster does not match their win total (15-37) by any stretch of the imagination. Effort fluctuated on a nightly basis and the only consistency was the lack of a clear offensive or defensive scheme.

2. Fair or unfair: Jacque Vaughn was fired midseason.

Atmonavage: Fair. I am not a fan of firing anyone midseason because I don’t think it really accomplishes much in the grand scheme of things, but once a coach loses a team and it becomes obvious he needs to go, there isn’t much else to do.

Bennett: Somewhat unfair. This discussion surfaced when Mike Malone was fired by the Kings, only to be replaced by one of his assistants (Ty Corbin). If Orlando goes out and gets a name a la Malone, then, sure, Rob Hennigan is within his right to make a coaching change. If this is a change just for the sake of change, then firing Vaughn becomes less justifiable.

Frankel: Fair. The Magic are already out of the playoff race and Vaughn clearly isn’t the coach for this Magic roster. So there’s no downside to parting with Vaughn as early as possible and getting a couple months ahead on the coaching search or becoming more comfortable with an in-staff replacement.

3. Which available coach would be the best fit for the Magic?

Atmonavage: James Borrego. I am leaning towards keeping Borrego as the interim coach for the rest of the year, assess where the franchise is going into the summer, then look for the best coaching fit in the offseason. No reason to pin yourself down with a guy in a lost cause of a season.

Bennett: Mike Malone. Before being fired, Malone started to turn things around in Sacramento — he appeared to have gotten his players to buy into his defensive philosophy. This includes superstar center — and known headcase — DeMarcus Cousins. With Vucevic at center, and players that may become quality two-way players in Oladipo, Payton, and Gordon, Orlando could use Malone to instill some good habits on the defensive end.

Frankel: George Karl. It might be a pipe-dream at this point in his career, but why not? Karl knows how to run an offense on a team sparse on shooting, which the Magic are. His defensive struggles are overrated and Orlando already has a fairly strong defensive roster. At this point, the Magic just need to win — the rest can be figured out later — and Karl can help with that.

Feb 06

Jacque Vaughn failed to live up to his potential


AP Photo/Jason DeCrow

When the Magic named Jacque Vaughn as their new head coach in July 2012, making him the NBA’s youngest head coach at the time (then 37), the hiring was met with a mix of skepticism and optimism.

Not much was known about Vaughn from a coaching standpoint, aside from the fact that he spent two seasons as an assistant under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio from 2010-2012 — with Pop going out of his way to hire Vaughn and create a position for him, even though he didn’t have an opening for an assistant coach. (Vaughn had played for Pop for three seasons and won a championship with him in 2007 as a backup point guard). Vaughn scouted future opponents, helped run practices, and had other coaching responsibilities.

Popovich called Vaughn a “star” and compared him to Avery Johnson, another former Spurs point guard who went on to become a head coach.

Even though Vaughn had minimal coaching experience when the Magic hired him, which was a concern, he was given the benefit of the doubt because he was part of Popovich’s coaching tree and had developed a reputation as being smart, hard-working, and organized.

It was a calculated risk by the Magic — a franchise that wanted an up-and-coming assistant rather than a retread — to hire Vaughn over more proven commodities like Mike Malone and Brian Shaw, who also interviewed for the position but didn’t make it past the preliminary round of interviews. The Magic gambled that Vaughn, who beat out Lindsay Hunter and Michael Curry for the job, would grow, develop, and be a better coach than the other candidates. The Magic bet that Vaughn would become a star coach.

They bet wrong and cut their losses by firing Vaughn on Thursday, ironically after the Magic lost to the Spurs the previous night. Vaughn compiled a 58-158 record (.269 winning percentage) — the worst mark in Magic franchise history.

Read the rest of this entry »

Feb 05

Statement from Jacque Vaughn

Via Orlando Magic press release:

The following is a statement from Jacque Vaughn:

“I would like to thank Mr. DeVos and family for the opportunity of representing the Orlando Magic as head coach. I am a stronger and wiser man and coach because of the opportunity. I look forward to seeing this group continue to grow. God bless, good luck. Jacque Vaughn. Proverbs 3:5-6.”

Feb 05

Magic relieve Vaughn, name Borrego interim coach


Photo by Fernando Medina/Orlando Magic

Via Orlando Magic press release:

The Orlando Magic have relieved Jacque Vaughn from his head coaching duties, general manager Rob Hennigan announced today. In addition, James Borrego has been named interim head coach.

“Jacque (Vaughn) has been a trusted friend and colleague,” said Hennigan. “We thank him immensely for his contributions and sacrifices in bringing our team to this point, and we greatly appreciate his unwavering commitment to our organization. We have tremendous respect for Jacque and certainly wish him the best as he embarks on the next phase of his career.”

Vaughn was named head coach on July 27, 2012. He became the tenth head coach in franchise history and was the second youngest coach in the NBA at the time of his hiring. During his two-plus seasons in Orlando, Vaughn compiled a record of 58-158 (.269 win pct.), including 15-37 this season.

Prior to joining the Magic, Vaughn spent two seasons (2010-12) as an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs. During his two seasons on San Antonio’s staff, the Spurs compiled a regular season record of 111-37. He was also a member of the 2006-07 Spurs’ NBA Championship team as a player.

Borrego is in his third season with the Magic. He spent the previous two seasons as an assistant coach with New Orleans. Prior to joining New Orleans, Borrego spent seven seasons with the San Antonio Spurs from 2003-10. He started as an assistant video coordinator in the summer of 2003 and finished his tenure as an assistant coach. During those seasons, Borrego was a part of two NBA Championships teams in 2005 and 2007.

During the summer of 2013, Borrego served as head coach for the Magic’s summer league team. He also coached the New Orleans summer league team in 2012. Borrego has participated in the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders program in both Tokyo, Japan and Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Borrego began his coaching career at the University of San Diego, where he was an assistant coach for two seasons from 2001-03. During the 2002-03 campaign, San Diego captured the West Coast Conference Championship and earned a trip to the NCAA Tournament.

Borrego played three seasons at the University of San Diego, and during his senior season (2000-01) he was named to the West Coast Conference All-Academic Team. He earned a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in leadership studies.

Born and raised in Albuquerque, N.M., Borrego led Albuquerque Academy to a pair of state championships. He and his wife, Megan, have a daughter and two sons.

Feb 05

Magic fire coach Jacque Vaughn


AP Photo/John Raoux

Via Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:

The Orlando Magic have fired coach Jacque Vaughn, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Vaughn, 39, was informed of the decision on Thursday in Orlando.

The players will be informed at a meeting at 1 p.m. EST, sources told Yahoo.

Assistant coach James Borrego is expected to become interim head coach, sources told Yahoo.

Feb 05

Grades: San Antonio Spurs 110, Orlando Magic 103

Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 7.05.10 PM

AP Photo/Darren Abate


San Antonio Spurs 110 Final
Recap | Box Score
103 Orlando Magic

Nikola Vucevic
11-17 FG | 3-3 FT | 13 REB | 1 AST | 25 PTS | +8

Although Boris Diaw was listed as the nominal center for the Spurs, Vucevic was primarily matched up against Tim Duncan and played him to a stalemate. There’s a reason why Duncan is an All-Star for the 15th time in his Hall of Fame career, despite being 38 years old. He can go head-to-head against one of the best young bigs in the league and more than hold his own.

Tobias Harris
9-13 FG | 3-4 3P | 10 REB | 6 AST | 23 PTS | 0

Harris had his best game of the season, and it came against the defending champs on the road no less. He flirted with a triple-double and exploited his matchup against Diaw, who couldn’t keep up with Harris on the perimeter. This is one of those games where Harris showed why he’s such a deadly small ball power forward.

Elfrid Payton
6-8 FG | 2-6 FT | 6 REB | 9 AST | 14 PTS | +13

The Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for January also flirted with a triple-double. One of the things that’s noticeable about Payton as the season has progressed has been his improved ability to square his shoulders and line his body up with the rim when he’s putting up short jumpers and floaters. It’s allowed him to make those types of shots with more consistency.

Victor Oladipo
5-21 FG | 2-5 3P | 2 STL | 6 REB | 14 PTS | +1

This is all you need to know about Oladipo’s poor outing. He shot 2-for-10 at the rim. Whenever Oladipo drove to the basket, there was someone from San Antonio contesting his shot — whether it was Duncan, Kawhi Leonard, or whoever else. It was a team-wide defensive effort from the Spurs. They made life difficult for Oladipo in the paint.

San Antonio Spurs

San Antonio can play much better, but against Orlando, a C-plus performance is good enough to win. Duncan, as has been the case for his entire career, was brilliant. He finished with 26 points and 10 rebounds. Manu Ginobili (13 points, 10 assists, 6 rebounds) came off the bench and was equally brilliant, running the Spurs’ offense with Tony Parker having an off-night.

Feb 04

Elfrid Payton named East Rookie of the Month

Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 7.09.30 PM

Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images

Via Orlando Magic press release:

Orlando Magic guard Elfrid Payton was named the Kia NBA Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for games played in January, the NBA has announced today.

Payton is just the sixth Magic player to be awarded the honor. Dennis Scott won the award once, Shaquille O’Neal was awarded the honor four times, while Anfernee Hardaway, Mike Miller and Victor Oladipo each won twice.

Payton, the 10th overall selection in the 2014 NBA Draft, ranks first among rookies in assists (5.7 apg.), sixth in scoring (7.7 ppg.), second in steals (1.45 spg.), ninth in rebounds (3.6 rpg.), seventh in field goal percentage (.411 FG percentage) and fourth in minutes (27.4 mpg.). He also ranks among all NBA players in assists (T-19th) and steals (T-31st).

During January, Payton scored in double figures eight times, led the team in scoring once, in rebounding once and in assists 13 times. He also recorded new career highs in points (22 points on Jan. 16 vs. Memphis), assists (12 assists on Jan. 16 vs. Memphis) and rebounds (nine rebounds on Jan. 2 vs. Brooklyn) during the month of January. Payton also dished out 10+ assists three times and notched two double-doubles.

Minnesota’s Andrew Wiggins was the winner of the award for the Western Conference.

Feb 04

Preview: Orlando Magic at San Antonio Spurs


  • Teams: Orlando Magic at San Antonio Spurs
  • Date: February 4, 2015
  • Time: 8:30 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: AT&T Center


  • Magic: 15-36
  • Spurs: 30-18

Probable starters


  • Elfrid Payton
  • Victor Oladipo
  • Evan Fournier
  • Tobias Harris
  • Nikola Vucevic


  • Tony Parker
  • Danny Green
  • Kawhi Leonard
  • Boris Diaw
  • Tim Duncan

Advanced stats


  • Pace: 94.2 (12th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 101.4 (27th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 108.2 (25th of 30)


  • Pace: 93.4 (19th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 106.1 (13th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 102.3 (4th of 30)

Read about the Spurs

48 Minutes of Hell

Feb 03

Grades: Oklahoma City Thunder 104, Orlando Magic 97

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 7.43.46 PM

Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images


Oklahoma City Thunder 104 Final
Recap | Box Score
97 Orlando Magic

Nikola Vucevic
9-16 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 20 PTS | -20

If it seems like Vucevic’s midrange jump shot is borderline automatic, that’s because it is. For the season, Vucevic is shooting 48.0 percent from 16-23 feet, per Basketball-Reference. And it’s not like he’s shooting it sparingly — 20.7 percent of his attempted field goals come from that distance. Against the Thunder, Vucevic shot 4-for-5 from 16-23 feet.

Victor Oladipo
7-14 FG | 6-6 FT | 7 REB | 4 AST | 22 PTS | -2

After sitting out Sunday night’s game against the Mavericks with a sore achilles, Oladipo returned to the starting lineup for the Magic and didn’t miss a beat. He was efficient and got his shots in the best spots on the floor — at the rim, behind the 3-point arc, and from the free-throw line. Couldn’t ask for much more from Oladipo offensively.

Tobias Harris
8-20 FG | 2-3 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 18 PTS | -6

Harris got his second straight start at the power forward position and fared much better — relatively speaking — against the Thunder than he did against the Mavericks. Although Harris missed practically every jump shot he attempted, he did a decent job of attacking the rim (7-for-13). Only decent because Serge Ibaka did a good job of contesting Harris’ shots.

Willie Green
4-7 FG | 3-5 3P | 3 REB | 3 AST | 13 PTS | +8

How about this for a fun fact? Green scored 13-plus points in three straight games for the first time since 2009 when he did it in three consecutive games from November 30 to December 5 of that year. Needless to say, Green is in a rare offensive groove and it’ll be interesting to see if he can keep it up.

Oklahoma City Thunder

With Kevin Durant out (sore toe), it was Russell-mania in Oklahoma City. He picked up his second-career triple-double against Orlando with 25 points, 14 assists, and 11 rebounds — to go along with 4 steals for good measure. Other players with multiple triple-doubles in their careers against Orlando: Jason Kidd, Grant Hill, Hakeem Olajuwon, Scott Pippen, David Robinson, among others.

Feb 02

Preview: Orlando Magic at Oklahoma City Thunder


  • Teams: Orlando Magic at Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Date: February 2, 2015
  • Time: 8:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Florida
  • Arena: Chesapeake Energy Arena


  • Magic: 15-35
  • Thunder: 23-24

Probable starters


  • Elfrid Payton
  • Victor Oladipo
  • Aaron Gordon
  • Tobias Harris
  • Nikola Vucevic


  • Russell Westbrook
  • Dion Waiters
  • Andre Roberson
  • Serge Ibaka
  • Steven Adams

Advanced stats


  • Pace: 94.3 (12th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 101.4 (27th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 108.1 (25th of 30)


  • Pace: 94.5 (10th of 30)
  • Offensive Rating: 104.0 (18th of 30)
  • Defensive Rating: 103.1 (10th of 30)

Read about the Thunder

Daily Thunder

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