Report: Scott Skiles in lead to become next Orlando coach

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This move would play well with the fan base. Whether it’s the best move for a developing team is another debate.

With Scott Brooks having pulled out of the Orlando coaching search, former Magic player Scott Skiles has solidified as the frontrunner to land the Magic coaching job, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

Scott Skiles has emerged as the strong frontrunner to become head coach of the Orlando Magic, league sources told Yahoo Sports….

Skiles, 51, has been the preferred choice of Orlando ownership, which has been fond of him since his playing days with the Magic in the 1990s. Skiles fits the candidate profile that Hennigan privately outlined for the coaching search: a successful head-coaching résumé that includes strong emphasis on upgrading Orlando’s defense and accountability.

This process is not moving quickly, the sides have not yet discussed contract negotiations, but things are moving that way according to the report.

The Magic reportedly also have interest in Tom Thibodeau, who sources across the league expect to part ways with Chicago. However, that standoff is still going on — Chicago wants to find a trade for Thibodeau (and the $9 million left on his contract), he’s not exactly willing to help that process along. With New Orleans meeting with Alvin Gentry — and maybe Jeff Van Gundy — and now Orlando leaning toward Skiles, Chicago is running out of teams willing to talk deal (and Orlando never seriously wanted to talk trade —GM Rob Hennigan collects draft picks, not moves them). And you can forget the dream of a bidding war.

Skiles will sell well in Orlando — the scrappy point guard was a fan favorite who spent the peak of his playing career in a Magic uniform. He has plenty of head-coaching experience, with a career record of 443-433.

Skiles the coach is similar to Skiles the player — a hard-driving disciplinarian. He gets his teams to play solid defense, and Orlando was bottom 10 in that category last season (as was their offense… there’s a lot of work to do). He has turned around losing teams because of that defensive focus. The Magic have some quality pieces — Victor Oladipo, Nikola Vucevic, Elfrid Payton, Tobias Harris — and if a coach can get them to defend they might be able to make the playoffs in the East.

Whether he is the best guy to develop that young talent is up for debate — that’s not his known skill set and his hard-driving style tends to burn players out. Plus in Milwaukee a few years back he did not have a good relationship with Magic restricted free agent Tobias Harris (who blossomed after being moved).

Still, the Maic would take some steps forward under Skiles watch.