Orlando Magic: Hiring John Hammond as GM a great move

Jun 24, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Bucks general manager John Hammond (L), second round pick Malcolm Brogdon (13), first round pick Thon Maker (7), and head coach Jason Kidd (R) pose for a photo during an introduction press conference at the Milwaukee Bucks training facility. Mandatory Credit: Sam Caravana- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY Sports

The Orlando Magic needed to have a productive summer to regain relevance again. Hiring John Hammond was a great next step.

The Orlando Magic‘s search for a new general manager is over, with the announcement that John Hammond will assume the role.

First reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, the Hammond hire brings to an end the team’s search for a long-term successor to replace the ousted Rob Hennigan.

Hammond comes to the franchise having worked with the Milwaukee Bucks since 2008. Prior to that he was a part of the front office that led the Detroit Pistons to six straight Eastern Conference Finals, and a championship in 2004.

On the surface this looks to be a great move with little downside. A deeper look at what Hammond can bring only reinforces this point.

The key reason Magic fans should be happy with this addition is the wonders Hammond worked with the Bucks.

Apr 22, 2017; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) reacts after scoring during the second quarter against the Toronto Raptors in game four of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the Bucks being a small-market team that doesn’t get meetings with premier free agents, he managed to help make them an up-and-coming team in the East.

When the likes of a Kevin Durant or a Chris Paul become unrestricted free agents, moving to and playing basketball in Milwaukee is not at the top of their priority list.

The Magic are in a similar position in that, even though there is no income tax in the state of Florida, finding max guys to come and play there has often proven difficult.

So Hammond is used to being shrewd in the players he targets, and he should have a little more success attracting players to Orlando, as opposed to Milwaukee.

This feeds nicely into what many feel is the key reason Hammond was chosen to be the GM of this team as it tries to make its way back to the playoffs.

He has an excellent draft history with the Bucks, and oversaw the selections of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Malcolm Brogdon, Thon Maker and Jabari Parker in recent years.

The Giannis and Brogdon picks in particular stand out, as both players turned out to be steals.

Giannis was the 15th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, while Brogdon was a second round pick last year and should make the All-Rookie team as a Rookie of the Year frontrunner.

It’s too early to tell if Maker will be a real player in the NBA, but as of right now he too looks like a well thought out selection.

The Magic have been poor at evaluating and drafting talent for the last five seasons.

In that period alone, they have passed on the following players:

Perhaps you think some of those players aren’t as good as the ones currently employed by the Magic. It is also true to say some of the above players (Murray for example) wouldn’t have panned out as well in Orlando, and also that their needs didn’t align with what those players can do.

But a look at the Magic’s roster, after a fifth straight season of finishing bottom of their contention with nothing to play for after January, tells you something is wrong.

If Hammond can be even a little better in drafting players, then this team will automatically be in a better place. After all, it’s easier to convince players to come and play with Giannis in a place like Orlando, as opposed to Milwaukee.

There isn’t another Giannis in the world right now, but using their sixth pick correctly and finding complementary players to come and join him in time is the next best thing.

Doing so without spending heaps of money is also important, and recent history would suggest Hammond can have some success here too.

Almost unbelievably, the Magic had the eighth highest payroll in the league last season, at just over $104 million.

In comparison, the Bucks had the 19th highest payroll, at a fraction over $94 million. They also didn’t employ any of the 30 highest-paid players in the league.

Despite this, they gave the Toronto Raptors a real series in the first round of the playoffs, and figure to be a matchup nightmare for opponents for the foreseeable future.

They also have a solid head coach in Jason Kidd and enough young talent to make walking away from them difficult.

Which is exactly what John Hammond did, and it must fill Orlando Magic fans with optimism.

Here is a guy who has excelled everywhere he’s been, and who is an unknown to casual NBA fans.

This is because his name is never in the limelight for negative reasons, something else the Magic need after the shambles the Hennigan era became.

He knows how to work in a smaller market, with tighter budgets and realistic expectations about what free agents will want to play there. Despite all of this, he still managed to make the Milwaukee Bucks look an attractive destination for guys coming to the end of their careers, like Jason Terry.

He doesn’t have a bigger name like David Griffin, and he doesn’t need complete control of a franchise like Doc Rivers.

John Hammond was the right move at the right time for this team, and his arrival is the next phase in what has been a quietly successful summer for the team so far.

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