Under general manager Rob Hennigan, the Magic have gone 20-62, 23-59, 25-57, 35-47 and 21-37.
Their first-round picks — Andrew Nicholson, Victor Oladipo, Aaron Gordon, Elfrid Payton, Mario Hezonja — have yielded no stars.
So, in an effort to accelerate their path forward, they acquired several costly veterans last offseason: 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).
This did little but overload the frontcourt and push Gordon, Orlando’s most promising player, out of position from power forward to small forward. Hennigan has already tried to mitigate the damages by flipping Ibaka to the Raptors for Terrence Ross and a later first-round pick.
Hennigan is also addressing his role in the Magic’s dismal standing.
Hennigan, via Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel:
“First and foremost, the criticism is warranted,” Hennigan said. “I don’t know if it’s welcome because no one likes to get criticized, but the job we have and the job we’re trying to do is certainly subject to that. Our fans, quite frankly, deserve to be upset and deserve to be frustrated. … I think the proverbial hot seat comes with the territory.”
The most important thing for the Magic to do is acknowledge their place.
If you’re three years away from where you want to be and spend two years going nowhere, you’re still three years from where you want to be. Trying to jam three years of progress into a single year usually just means compounding previous complaints.
Trading Ibaka suggests Hennigan understands that and isn’t angling to keep his job by winning as much as possible this season. (The Ibaka trade was a deal for the future, but I actually believe it will help Orlando this season. Clearing the big-man logjam is addition by subtraction, and Ross adds much-needed wing help.)
I can’t help but wonder: Is Hennigan operating this way because he believes in his job security?