The widely held assumption that the Orlando Magic would fire Rob Hennigan if the team missed the Playoffs may not be true, according to Basketball Insiders.
There is a widely held assumption Orlando Magic general manager Rob Hennigan needed the Magic to make the Playoffs to remain in his position.
This season brought with it a massive change to the team’s rebuilding process and expectations. The Magic cashed in young players like Tobias Harris and Victor Oladipo for a chance at free agency and veteran forward Serge Ibaka. The amount of money they spent and the focus they brought in to make the Playoffs made it clear there was pressure to win and win now.
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The season has not gone to that plan.
The Magic quickly fell out of the Playoff picture in December and January. All the while, they never established the defensive identity both coach Frank Vogel and the makeup of their roster seemed to suggest they would have.
Yet, this season has not gone at all to plan. It is becoming clear — if it was not already — this team is not making the Playoffs and the whole gambit to push in for the Playoffs with a mismatched roster will not work.
And, wherever the win-now directive came from, there is only one man ultimately responsible. The buck stops at Rob Hennigan and the roster he put together.
But the reality for the Magic and their future might be different than what the sense has largely been.
Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders reports Hennigan’s job may be more secure than many on the outside might believe considering how massive a failure this season has quickly become.
Sources close to the process say they are not sold that Martins will fire Hennigan. Much like the first year in 2012, Martins knew the team was embarking on a new course, one built around more veterans. The Magic landed a few in free agency and will be set up nicely this summer to pursue more. As the Magic sit today they have just $67.4 million in salary commitments for the 2017 season, with the salary cap set to be just at $102 million, giving the Magic about $34.6 million to spend this summer.
While some may question the virtue of letting Hennigan take more swings at the piñata, the view from inside the Magic is the job is not done yet, and there is still a commitment to Hennigan to deliver on the plan everyone agreed to.
It is important to note, a lot can still change. If the Magic make a bad deal or cannot find a deal that sets up their future more clearly at the trade deadline, that may necessitate a change.
As Kyler also notes on the latest episode of the Basketball Insiders Podcast, ownership could also step in and demand a change without a clearer path forward.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out if it indeed is not as cut and dry as fans seem to think.
As Kyler notes, there are some business considerations that will quickly come into play. Many of the Magic’s corporate partnerships expire at the end of the season. And the team could face some angry season ticket holders if there is no demonstrable progress soon.
On top of all this, while the DeVos family is around, they stay largely hands off on the day to day decisions. Whether the Magic move on from Rob Hennigan is completely up to CEO Alex Martins. That is unless ownership intervenes. And that is completely possible too.
The focus for the Magic right now is on the trade deadline. Hennigan will get at least that to carve a path for the future and sell Martins and ownership on his vision for the team.
Keith Smith of RealGM reports the Magic appear ready to focus on a rebuild rather than trying to buy their way into the 2017 Playoffs. The team has fallen six games out of the Playoffs with about 24 games to play this season.
League sources indicate Orlando has begun pursuing trades for a rebuild. Last night's loss dropped Magic 6 games out of the playoff picture.