ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) Three days after the Orlando Magic announced Frank Vogel as the franchise’s new coach, the team formally introduced him.
“The future is bright for these guys,” Vogel said during a news conference on Monday. “In my mind this team is ready to take the next step.”
Vogel, 42, spent the last five-plus seasons with the Indiana Pacers. He replaces Scott Skiles, who abruptly resigned on May 12 after just one season.
“As the process played out, it was obvious to me this was the perfect place for me to continue this journey,” Vogel said. “It also becaome clear to me that this is also a perfect place for my family.”
During his tenure with the Pacers, Vogel guided them to a 250-181 record and five postseason appearances. The Pacers won two Central Division titles and made two trips to the Eastern Conference finals under Vogel. Pacers director of basketball operations announced earlier this offseason that Vogel’s contract would not be renewed after a first-round playoff exit in which the team took Toronto to Game 7 before being ousted.
Vogel becomes general manager Rob Hennigan’s third head coaching hire and the Magic’s third coach in the last three years. But Vogel and his pedigree seems like a huge save after Skiles’ unexpected departure.
“When we started this process days ago it was important for us to find the coach,” Hennigan said. “I think we are very fortunate to get a coach of Frank’s caliber. We’re excited about Frank.”
Vogel was one of the more sought after NBA coaches this offseason, interviewing with Memphis, New York Knicks and Houston before ultimately deciding on the Magic last season.
He inherits a talented young team that seems on the cusp of returning the postseason. The Magic, which made a 10-win improvement to go 35-47 under Skiles this past season, has not made the playoffs in four seasons.
But with a young nucleus that includes Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier (restricted free agent), Victor Oladipo, Nikola Vucevic, Elfrid Patyon and Mario Hezonja, there is a strong belief that with a couple of veteran additions this offseason the Magic can contend for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference next season.
The Magic seemed destined for the postseason after a strong start to the 2015-16 campaign, but a January plagued by injuries resulted in a 2-12 month to make it all but impossible to recover enough to make a playoff bid.
Like Skiles, the Magic have a defensive-minded coach who can relate to the players in Vogel. Ironically, Bird said he did not renew Vogel’s five-year contract because he wanted more offense and felt that the Pacer players made need a new voice to lead them.