ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The Orlando Magic have fired general manager Rob Hennigan, saying Thursday it was time to go in a different direction after missing the postseason for five straight seasons.
“The facts are we regressed this year and we made the decision that five years under this leadership team was enough to show improvement, which we have not,” Magic CEO Alex Martins said Thursday afternoon. “I believe we have provided all of the assets, the autonomy and the tools necessary over the past five years in order to build a successful program.”
Hennigan didn’t come close to getting it done.
At 30, he was the youngest general manager in the NBA when he was hired by the Magic in June 2012. But the Magic never won enough under Hennigan’s direction, missing the postseason all five years of his tenure and posting a 132-278 (.322) record — the second-worst in the NBA over the five seasons and the worst five-year stretch in team history. The Magic finished this season 29-53 after entering the year with expectations of breaking through to the postseason under first-year coach Frank Vogel.
Magic assistant general manager Matt Lloyd was named the interim GM while the team searches for Hennigan’s replacement. Martins said Lloyd would also be a candidate for the permanent job, but said an exhaustive search for Hennigan’s replacement is in the works.
Martins wouldn’t give specifics on the search, only offering that he will look at some candidates that are currently in the playoffs and that the role could shift to president of basketball operations.
“This organization has seen great success over the years but this five-year period has unfortunately not seen that same success,” said Martins, who also fired assistant GM Scott Perry. “We feel as if we have fallen behind several of the teams that started this process at the same time that we did or even after we had started.”
Lloyd is in control for now and will head up the team’s NBA draft vetting process next month. Orlando has two first round draft picks.
“Matt brings solid experience and his appointment as general manager on an interim basis will allow us to seamlessly continue our preparations for the upcoming draft,” Martins said.
Hennigan has made several moves that didn’t pan out. The most recent was trading Victor Oladipo to Oklahoma City for veteran power forward Serge Ibaka last June. Hennigan also signed center Bismack Biyombo during free agency, as the team looked to go big in its front-court during a small-ball era.
The plan to play two big post players at the same time never was effective and Ibaka’s time in Orlando was short-lived as the season quickly began falling apart . He was under contract for only this season, and once it became clear he not likely re-sign with the Magic, he was traded in February to Toronto for Terrence Ross.
“Ultimately what we weren’t able to do is compile a roster of talent and individuals to work together to get us back to the playoffs in five years,” said Martins, whose team has a top 10 payroll this season. “That’s the compilation of a lot of different decisions and moves that were made over those five years that didn’t get us to the playoffs.”
Vogel said he was informed of the move by Martins during a meeting early Thursday.
“This is a tough day, they are both good men and good basketball people,” Vogel said. “I definitely wish them well.”
The Magic has also had a constant revolving coaching door under Hennigan, who hired three coaches in his five years. Hennigan hired unproven Jacque Vaughn in 2012 and brought in 2015 Scott Skiles in 2015. Skiles lasted just a season before resigning and Hennigan hired defensive-minded Vogel last offseason.
Vogel insists he isn’t concerned about his future with the team as it searches for a new GM.
“I’ve got a lot of trust in Alex Martins and the DeVoss family,” he said. “They’ve shown me an incredible amount of support and belief in me. I trust that he is going to make a great choice in whoever he brings in here.”
Hennigan faced an uphill challenge from the outset with perennial All-Star Dwight Howard demanding a trade prior to his hiring. The team has not been to the postseason since Howard’s departure as the roster has been primarily filled with young and unproven talent.
The team has not developed the young players drafted under Hennigan, and has failed to lure big-name free agents during his tenure.
“Some would say he didn’t have the benefit of luck in the NBA Lottery, which is true,” Martins said. “But sometimes you have to make your own luck, which we believe we haven’t done enough of.”