Magic Basketball: An Orlando Magic blog - Part 91

Jun 25

Scott Perry named Magic assistant general manager

Via Chris Broussard of

New Orlando Magic general manager Rob Hennigan made his first hire Monday, bringing Scott Perry to Orlando from the Detroit Pistons, according to league sources.

Perry, who will be the Magic’s assistant general manager, had worked with the Pistons for the past four years under Joe Dumars as the club’s vice president of basketball operations.

Jun 20

Rob Hennigan named Magic general manager

Photo taken by Fernando Medina.

Via Orlando Magic press release:

Rob Hennigan, who spent the past eight years with two of the NBA’s most successful franchises, has been named General Manager, Orlando Magic Chief Executive Officer Alex Martins announced today.

“It is with great enthusiasm and optimism that we announce Rob Hennigan as our new General Manager,” said Martins. “Rob is an astute strategist and evaluator of talent who comes to the Magic family from two championship-level organizations. We feel he is an outstanding fit and the right choice to lead our Basketball Operations team in achieving our championship goals.”

Hennigan spent the past four seasons with Oklahoma City, including the last two seasons as the Thunder’s assistant general manager/player personnel. Hennigan spent his first two seasons with the Thunder as the team’s director of college/international player personnel.

Hennigan’s responsibilities included overseeing the Thunder’s professional, college and international scouting departments, as well as assisting with all player personnel matters and day-to-day management of basketball operations.

During Hennigan’s tenure, Oklahoma City compiled a 175-137 (.561) regular season record. The Thunder won 50-or-more games twice, reached the Western Conference Finals twice and advanced to the 2012 NBA Finals.

Prior to joining the Thunder, Hennigan spent four seasons with the San Antonio Spurs. He was named director of basketball operations in September of 2007. Hennigan began as an intern during the 2004-05 season and was later named the team’s basketball operations assistant during the summer of 2005. The Spurs won the NBA World Championship in 2004-05 and 2006-07.

A native of Worcester, Massachusetts, Hennigan graduated with a degree in broadcast journalism from Emerson College in 2004. He was named a Division III All-American and an Academic All-American as a senior and was the Great Northeast Athletic Conference Player of the Year for three consecutive seasons. Hennigan finished his career as the school’s all-time leading scorer.

May 29

Magic waive Von Wafer

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Via Orlando Magic press release:

The Orlando Magic have announced that the team has waived guard Von Wafer.

Wafer (6’5”, 209, 7/21/85) appeared in 33 games (one start) with Orlando this season, averaging 5.9 ppg. and 1.4 rpg. in 14.2 mpg. He also played in one playoff game, tallying six points and one rebound.

Originally selected in the second round (39th overall) of the 2005 NBA Draft by the L.A. Lakers, Wafer has played in 200 career regular season games with the Lakers, L.A. Clippers, Denver, Portland, Houston, Boston and Orlando, averaging 5.3 ppg. and 1.2 rpg. in 12.4 mpg. Wafer has also appeared in 17 career playoff outings, averaging 6.6 ppg. in 11.3 mpg.

May 24

Dwight Howard named to All-NBA First Team

Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Via Orlando Magic press release:

Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard was named to the 2011-12 All-NBA First Team for the fifth consecutive season, the NBA announced today. Joining Howard on the First Team are LeBron James of the Miami Heat, Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers.

Howard led the league in rebounding with a career-high 14.5 rpg and field goal percentage (.573), and finished second in double-doubles (43) and third in blocks (2.15 bpg). Howard also averaged 20.6 points and was one of only three players to average at least 20 points and 10 rebounds.

May 24

Magic fans share their favorite Stan Van Gundy memory

Over a span of five years, Stan Van Gundy made a lot of memories during his time in Orlando. On the court, Magic fans got to witness some of the best teams and single-game performances in franchise history, game-winning shots, you name it. Off the court, Van Gundy became known for giving the best press conferences ever. Van Gundy was one-of-a-kind. I asked the Magic fanbase — “what was your favorite memory of the man simply known as SVG?”

Here’s what they had to say.


May 24

The Stan Van Gundy experience

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America

I used to watch hoops with the same group of guys in undergrad. It always drove me insane and warmed my heart. Inane arguments, at which I’m adept, and inane proclamations — ask me about Harrison Barnes — are two of the things I cherish most in the world and they were always in supply when I got together with the dudes. In fact, one of the things that drove me to blogging was that I didn’t agree with my friends about anything. Like, not ever. And that was always fun, until it was too much.

Anyways, it was through this group of knuckleheads — most of whom, mind you, are very into “swagger” and “clutch” and WATCH THE GAMEZ, etc. — that I was first put in touch with the Van Gundy paradox. During the Magic’s run to the Finals, which I guess was my sophomore year at UNC, I was talking about how much I liked watching the team when my friend Matt said “Yeah, but Stan Van Gundy sucks.” I laughed and I did my best “get a load of THIS guy” face. And then everyone else was like “No, yeah, he totally sucks.”

I was baffled then and I continue to be. I can’t think of another coach whose obvious success was met with so much … disdain is probably too strong a word. Dismissiveness?

And now that Stan has caught his second impossible situation after turning a team around, having been dumped in Orlando only slightly more gracefully than he was in Miami, I will be rooting for him as hard as any player or team.

It’s not that hard to see why Stan’s image hasn’t caught up with his success in the eyes of every viewer. He’s short in a tall man’s game, shrill in the age of the Zen master, and wry in a league whose sense of humor which comes in the form of Rasheed Wallace beatboxing Christmas carols. When Shaq called him “the master of panic,” he was just making obvious what was already clear: Van Gundy is, put nicely, an original, and put harshly, an outsider to the game he’s spent his life in.

Read the rest of this entry »

May 24

What I learned from Stan Van Gundy

Chris Graythen/Getty Images

When the Orlando Magic originally hired Stan Van Gundy as their new head coach in the summer of 2007, as a fan, I didn’t know what to think. To be honest, I knew more about the Magic’s initial coaching hire that offseason, Billy Donovan, than I did about Van Gundy.

Donovan was just coming off his second consecutive national championship at the University of Florida. All I knew about Van Gundy, at that point, was that “he wanted to spend more time with his family” after resigning as head coach of the Miami Heat in the 2005-2006 NBA season after 21 games. Or something like that. I honestly didn’t know if Van Gundy was the right hire or not for the Magic, or if he was a good coach to begin with.

But after five seasons with Orlando between 2008-2012, in which Van Gundy compiled a .657 winning percentage, 31 playoff wins, four 50-win seasons, three Southeast Division titles, one Eastern Conference title (and NBA Finals runner-up), I came to find out that not only was Van Gundy the right hire for the Magic but that he was, or “became” to put it more accurately, one of the best coaches in the league.

As a fan, and later as a writer, I learned a lot from Van Gundy. He helped me better understand the nuances of basketball like never before in my life.

I learned the value of the stretch four
Who would have thought power forward Tony Battie suffering a torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder before the start of training camp for the 2007-2008 NBA season would have a profound impact on the Magic?

Without a traditional power forward to pair next to Dwight, Van Gundy made a choice to start Rashard Lewis — Orlando’s prized free agent signee that offseason — at the power forward position, despite the fact that he was previously a sweet-shooting small forward with the Seattle SuperSonics.

It turned out to be, arguably, Van Gundy’s most innovative concept.

Up to that point, the league had never seen a power forward shoot an extreme volume of threes with proficiency. Yet here was Lewis, shooting three-pointers at a dizzying rate while players and coaches around the NBA were trying to adjust and adapt. Even a player like Dirk Nowitzki, early on in his career with the Dallas Mavericks, didn’t come close to attempting the amount of three-point shots per game that Lewis did.

With Van Gundy turning the league on its head and opposing teams trying to solve the stretch four puzzle, a new golden era of Magic basketball began.

With Lewis stretching the four, three things happened for Orlando. First, the Magic’s pick-and-roll attack became very difficult to defend. With opposing power forwards not accustomed to defending a stretch four on the perimeter, on many instances, Lewis found himself open behind the three-point line as Orlando’s ball-handlers executed pick-and-rolls. Second, with Lewis spreading the floor, Dwight got plenty of room to operate in the post. Third, and lastly, with Dwight doing damage on the low block, any double-team had the potential of resulting in a wide-open three-point shot for Lewis.

In essence, Lewis proved to be a vital part of the Magic’s ecosystem offensively.

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May 24

3-on-3 roundtable: Life after Stan Van Gundy

Fernando Medina/NBAE/Getty Images

On Monday, Stan Van Gundy was “relieved of his duties as head coach” according to an Orlando Magic press release. In other words, he was fired.

For those who follow the Magic closely, this piece of news should have come as no surprise. On April 5, during Orlando’s shootaround before their game against the New York Knicks that night, Van Gundy let it be known that Dwight Howard wanted him fired. The kicker is that Van Gundy knew all season long. And now here we are.

But how did it all start?

Questions about Van Gundy’s future intensified around the trade deadline in mid-March when an ESPN report surfaced that the Magic would allow Dwight to decide the future of Van Gundy and Otis Smith if he would agree to sign an extension. Orlando released a statement, denying the report, but that didn’t stop Van Gundy — when asked about the rumor — from making it clear that he didn’t care if he was fired. At that point, it was only a matter of time before things would come to a head between the Magic, Van Gundy, and Dwight.

Van Gundy, known for being one of the most honest voices in the NBA, eventually let the truth out on that fateful day in early April.

So with Orlando doing everything in their power to convince Dwight to commit long-term with them, Van Gundy was fired and Smith mutually agreed to part ways with the Magic shortly thereafter. Perhaps the rumor was true?

The writers at Magic Basketball, alongside Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post, take a look at the aftermath of Van Gundy’s dismissal and Smith’s departure. Consider it a special 4-on-3 roundtable.

Did the Magic do the right thing by firing Van Gundy and parting ways with Smith?

Nate Drexler, Magic Basketball: No. The Magic look desperate as can be right now and to make matters worse, they are not likely to land a long-term deal with Dwight. Let’s just say it sucks when you let an All-Star run a great coach out of town and then you don’t get to keep the All-Star. Doing “the right thing” is a lose-lose situation for Orlando, unfortunately. 

Danny Nowell, Magic Basketball: Yes and no. Otis yes, Stan no. I understand the organization felt like they needed to cross this Rubicon to have any shot of keeping Dwight, so it makes sense. But Stan — Dwight’s petulance not withstanding — was always more solution than problem.

Matt Scribbins, Magic Basketball: Yes and no. The Magic would have been better off by keeping the Stan Van Gundy era going, but it was probably time for a change in the position Otis held. They won’t get a better coach than SVG, but they may be able to improve at general manager.

Evan Dunlap, Orlando Pinstriped Post: Yes and no. Otis needed to go, as his most recent moves have proven ill-conceived and he’d sunk the team’s chances to upgrade the roster; Orlando doesn’t have any great trade assets besides Dwight Howard. Getting rid of Stan makes less sense to me, given the great success to which he guided the Magic in his five seasons. But if he was ready to move on, then it’s hard to argue either choice. 

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May 23

Dwight Howard named to NBA’s All-Defensive First Team

Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Via Orlando Magic press release:

Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team for the fourth consecutive season, the NBA announced today. This marks Howard’s fifth overall NBA All-Defensive selection (2007-08 Second Team).

Joining Howard (41 points) on the NBA All-Defensive First Team are forwards LeBron James of the Miami Heat (53 points) and Serge Ibaka of the Oklahoma City Thunder (47 points), and guards Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers (35 points) and Tony Allen of the Memphis Grizzlies (33 points). Ibaka and Allen earn First Team honors for the first time; Allen was an NBA All-Defensive Second Team selection last season.

Howard was the league’s leading rebounder (14.5 rpg) as well as its top defensive rebounder (10.8 drpg). Ibaka paced the league in blocks (3.65 bpg) while Paul led in steals (2.53 spg). The Grizzlies allowed 96.0 points per 100 possessions with Allen on the court compared to 101.7 points per 100 possessions with him off. James paced the Heat in steals (1.9 spg) and defensive rebounds (6.4 drpg), and tied for the team lead in rebounds (7.9 rpg).

May 21

Magic fire Stan Van Gundy; part ways with Otis Smith

Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images

Via Orlando Magic press release:

Orlando Magic Chief Executive Officer Alex Martins announced today that Stan Van Gundy has been relieved of his duties as head coach. In addition President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Otis Smith and the organization have mutually agreed to part ways.

“On behalf of the DeVos Family, we sincerely appreciate and thank Otis and Stan for all that they have done on and off the floor for the Orlando Magic,” said Martins. “These are the days you dread in this business, but we feel it’s time for new leadership and new voices.”

“They both brought die-hard dedication and an unmatched work ethic on a daily basis,” added Martins. “Their success is well documented, as the Orlando Magic has had the fourth best record in the NBA over the last five years, and entering the playoffs this year the third most playoff wins over that period of time. The disappointment of getting eliminated in the first round of the playoffs these past two seasons played a primary role in our decision, as we feel our momentum towards winning a championship has paused. We wish Otis and Stan all the best and we look forward to taking the next step towards winning that championship.”

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