Report: Magic hire Steve Clifford as coach

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Every Magic coach since Stan Van Gundy – Jacque Vaugh, Scott Skiles and Frank Vogel – has failed in Orlando.

Will former Hornets coach Steve Clifford snap the skid?

He’ll get a chance.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Clifford, who missed several weeks last season due to health issues, said he wanted to coach next season. This proves it. Not just because he took a job, but because he took this job.

Magic president Jeff Weltman hasn’t had much opportunity to overhaul a talent-lacking and unbalanced roster, and Orlando faces another bind this summer. The Magic’s top player, Aaron Gordon, will be a restricted free agent. Keeping him could require a sizable payout, and it’s not certain he fits with Orlando’s other most promising player, Jonathan Isaac. Losing Gordon would mean taking a step back while not gaining much flexibility.

It’d be really nice for the Magic if Clifford helps this team win at even a moderate rate, which would raise everyone’s trade value. Given his tenure in Charlotte, that seems possible. Clifford is a good coach – a straightforward communicator who schemes a sound defense and gets players to buy in.

Before coaching the Hornets, Clifford was Van Gundy’s assistant in Orlando under a different front office for five years. The Magic made the playoffs each of those five seasons, won a series most of them and peaked at a Finals appearance.

Orlando hasn’t returned to the postseason since.

For the Magic to break that drought, they’ll first and foremost need to upgrade the roster. But hiring Clifford is also a good step.