Aaron Gordon

Associated Press

Magic’s Aaron Gordon said he might return to dunk contest this year

Leave a comment

Two year’s ago, Aaron Gordon and Zach LaVine faced off in what might have been the greatest dunk contest ever.

Gordon returned to the contest last year the heavy favorite, but his drone dunks fell flat (he missed all four in the second round), and he was out early.

Could Gordon return to the dunk contest when the All-Star Game returns to Los Angeles next February? He was asked that in an interview on sporttechie.com.

I think I might go back, but we’ll see how the first couple games of the season play out.

Gordon is in the final year of his rookie contract and is playing for his next payday this season, he’s got more to worry about than dunks — although raising his profile and reminding everyone how athletic he is could be a good thing. That said, he needs to show a consistent three-point shot, show he knows how to use that athleticism to be an elite defender, and, hopefully, Frank Vogel help him out by playing him more as a small-ball four than a three.

The last time the All-Star Dunk Contest was in Los Angeles, Blake Griffin won jumping over a car while a gospel choir sang. Gordon can do better than that. Hopefully, he is in.

Report: Magic signing Jonathon Simmons to three-year contract

Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
7 Comments

The Spurs essentially told Jonathon Simmons they were done with him – or at least ready to be done with him – by rescinding his qualifying offer and letting him become an unrestricted free agent.

So, Simmons will go to Orlando.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Magic had about $8 million-$9 million in cap space. I’m guessing Simmons, who turns 28 before the season and has received the minimum his first two NBA seasons, got nearly all of it. A starting salary of $8,406,000 is the demarcation line. Any higher, and Orlando couldn’t have made this offer while Simmons was still restricted.

The Magic are loading up on athleticism – Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac, Terrence Ross, Bismack Biyombo, Elfrid Payton and now Simmons. There are a lot of tools for Frank Vogel to craft a nasty defense. (Scoring could remain a problem with a lot on the plate of Evan Fournier and Nikola Vucevic.)

The Spurs will miss Simmons, as they have no mechanism to replace him. But they knew that when they rescinded his qualifying offer, allowing him to get paid elsewhere. While loading up wings like Simmons appears to be the best way to match up with the Warriors, San Antonio is going a different direction.

Report: Orlando hires Toronto GM Jeff Weltman to be president of basketball operations

1 Comment

In Toronto, Masai Ujiri is the head of basketball operations and the guy with the hammer on deals. Jeff Weltman was his right-hand man and team GM.

Make that was his right-hand man, Weltman has been hired by the Orlando Magic to run its basketball operations, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

The Orlando Magic have hired Toronto Raptors general manager Jeff Weltman as the franchise’s president of basketball operations, league sources told The Vertical.

Weltman met with Orlando CEO Alex Martins and ownership on Monday, finalizing a five-year deal, league sources said.

Orlando officials had been intrigued with Cleveland GM David Griffin, but moved steadily toward Weltman as they became further engaged with his candidacy in recent weeks, league sources said. Weltman has been deeply involved in every aspect of the Raptors’ front office under president Masai Ujiri as Toronto became a perennial Eastern Conference contender.

Making a move now is smart in this sense: The Magic have the No. 5 pick in this draft and would want the guy making the big picture decisions about this roster on board to make this selection.

That roster already has some quality pieces — Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier, Nikola Vucevic, maybe Elfrid Payton — but has underachieved. There were questions about the culture and a lack of accountability, and that blame ultimately fell on GM Rob Hennigan and he was let go. Frank Vogel is locked in as

Frank Vogel is locked in as coach, so how well Weltman and Vogel work together — and share a vision — will be key.

Weltman is well-respected around the league. He spent five seasons as an assistant GM in Milwaukee, and has been with the Raptors since 2013 as that team has risen up the Eastern Conference standings and had its best run in franchise history. He also has worked with the Clippers and in Denver. He’s been one of those guys expected to get a chance in the big chair for a few years now.

He’s got it, and it’s an interesting challenge in Orlando.

Report: Kevin McHale also in mix for team president in Orlando

Getty Images
2 Comments

Cavaliers GM David Griffin — who doesn’t have a contract with the team beyond this year, but who LeBron James has endorsed — is on their radar.

Larry Bird, who is stepping down in Indiana, is a potential target.

You can add Kevin McHale to the list of former NBA executives the Orlando Magic are taking a look at in their search for a new head of basketball operations, reports Sam Amick of the USA Today.

The Orlando Magic have serious interest in Hall of Famer and TNT analyst Kevin McHale for their team president position, according to two people with knowledge of the situation….But McHale, who served as Minnesota Timberwolves vice president of basketball operations from 1995 to 2008 while also serving as the team’s head coach on two occasions, is known to be on the Timberwolves’ short list as well. The Magic would strongly prefer someone who has previously been a general manager for the president position.

But McHale, who served as Minnesota Timberwolves vice president of basketball operations from 1995 to 2008 while also serving as the team’s head coach on two occasions, is known to be on the Timberwolves’ short list as well. The Magic would strongly prefer someone who has previously been a general manager for the president position.

McHale made some franchise-defining moves as the head man in Minnesota — he drafted Kevin Garnett and he brought Flip Saunders into the organization, he brought in Sam Cassell and Latrell Spreewell and that got the Timberwolves to the conference finals in 2004, to use a few examples.

He had his share of mistakes, too. Like drafting Ray Allen then trading him for Stephon Marbury, or drafting Brandon Roy and trading him for Randy Foye.

The Orlando roster has talent on it — Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier, Nikola Vucevic, maybe Elfrid Payton — and a quality coach in place with Frank Vogel. That said the talent on the roster does not fit and Orlando desperately needed someone willing to shake things up, who wasn’t too invested in “their guys” to realize the roster’s serious shortcomings.

McHale could do that. It looks like we are a month or more from finding out, however, as Griffin isn’t going anywhere until after the Cavaliers season — which likely extends into June. If the Magic are serious about him, this process is going to drag out.

Magic fire general manager Rob Hennigan

Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images
5 Comments

Everyoneeven Rob Hennigan — saw this coming.

The underwhelming-turned-embarrassing tenure of the Magic general manager has ended.

John Denton of the team’s official website:

Magic CEO Alex Martins announced the firings of General Manager Rob Hennigan and Assistant GM Scott Perry.

Assistant GM Matt Lloyd, a Magic employee for five years, will serve as the franchise’s interim GM until a full-time successor is chosen. Lloyd, who worked for the Chicago Bulls for 13 years prior to joining the Magic, is expected to be a candidate for the long-term position.

The Magic went 20-62, 23-59, 25-57, 35-47 and 29-53 and missed the playoffs every year under Hennigan, which is bad enough. Compounding problems: None of the first-round picks gained by those poor records — Andrew NicholsonVictor Oladipo, Aaron Gordon, Elfrid PaytonMario Hezonja — have become stars.

That didn’t stop Hennigan from trying to push in his chips this season. Last summer, he acquired Serge Ibaka (via trade of Victor Oladipo, No. 11 pick and Ersan Ilyasova), Bismack Biyombo (four-year, $72 million contract), Jeff Green (one-year, $15 million contract) and D.J. Augustin (four-year, $29 million contract).

The result? Gordon, Orlando’s most promising player, spent most of the season playing out of position, at small forward rather than power forward. And the Magic kept losing. Hennigan flipped Ibaka to the Raptors for Terrence Ross and a later first-round pick, but the damage was already done.

It’s still not too hard to find someone who still believes in the 35-year-old Hennigan’s acumen. But five years was plenty of time to show it, and he never did.