Now that Orlando has finished its season, stronger word is connecting all three to the job.
The Magic, sources say, already have held informal discussions about the position with former Orlando fan favorite Scott Skiles and rate the ex-Phoenix Suns, Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks coach as a serious candidate for the job.
In addition to Skiles, sources say the Magic have interest in both Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau — who is widely expected to part company with the Bulls at season’s end — as well as Florida coach Billy Donovan.
Brian K. Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel:
Thibodeau, in a vacuum, is the best coach of the four. But he’s also under contract for the next couple seasons, and fit could be an issue. How would a young team that’s not as ready to win as the Bulls respond to his intense coaching? (Or could Thibodeau reveal that Orlando is more ready to win than we realize?)
If Mike Malone is interested, the Magic should absolutely reciprocate. There are similarities between this team and the Kings squad Malone was so successful with early this season.
Talking to Skiles is the right move – he’s a reasonable candidate. And it made sense to get a jump on that process, because he doesn’t hold another job. But the Magic should spend time questioning why Skiles doesn’t hold another job. That Orlando fans liked him when he was a player won’t mean much now. The Magic should hire him only if they believe he’s the best coach for the job.
Donovan has a lot of qualities that would translate well to the pros, but the Magic actually hired eight years ago before he backed out and returned to Florida. Do any bitter feelings remain? Orlando shouldn’t hold a grudge and should hire Donovan if he’s the best coach for the job (though his backing out can certainly contribute to the overall picture of him). Not holding a grudge is easier said than done, though.