Magic coach: No skipping steps in latest rebuild
There's one thing Orlando Magic coach Jacque Vaughn can promise as the head of a team that finished a league-worst 20-62 in Year 1 of the franchise's latest rebuilding project.
He won't allow any sugarcoating.
Not for his players, or even to a Magic fan base still feeling the rawness of Dwight Howard's exit two summers ago.
''It is a reality, that's the first part of it. You have to understand it, and accept it, and you move forward,'' Vaughn said.
And if there were a soundtrack to this season, odds are Vaughn would prefer it to be written by Bill Withers.
''I love music. Bill Withers said `you can't get through wonderful without passing through all right,''' said Vaughn, entering is second season as the Magic's coach. ''There are steps to the process of getting to be wonderful. We'll continue our steps. We'll be patient, but resilient at the same time...and that's the message our guys will continue to live by every day.''
Vaughn's confidence aside, with a roster top heavy with young players, it's no secret that the Magic will open training camp Tuesday miles away from the playoff runs fans were spoiled on during the Howard-led era.
While second-year general manager Rob Hennigan said he also knows there is lots of work ahead, he shared Vaughn's assessment of what the next chapter must look like in the improvement process.
''I think his analogy is right on,'' Hennigan said. ''I think all of us know where we want to be. We know where we want to get. But we don't want to skip steps along the way.''
Though armed with several draft picks in the coming years, the emphasis will be on developing the talent that's in place this season. It begins with Vaughn and Hennigan's hope for a strong rookie campaign from Victor Oladipo, who the Magic took with the No. 2 overall draft pick this summer.
''You definitely have to make an adjustment, whether you like it or not,'' Oladipo said. ''I don't think it was a huge adjustment as far as the game of basketball. But it's 82 games. I'm not used to that. I'm not used to the size. I'm not used to every night you're playing against the best of the best. I just want to help.''
Primarily a shooting guard in college at Indiana, the Magic coaching staff experimented with playing the 6-foot-4 Oladipo at point guard during summer league.
Oladipo has already spent a lot of time being mentored by Magic point guard Jameer Nelson, who is entering his 10th NBA season. Only retired guard Nick Anderson spent as many seasons in a Magic uniform.
Even though any minutes Oladipo logs at point guard would mean less action for him, Nelson said he is embracing the mentor role.
''It means a lot,'' Nelson said. ''It's a new chapter in my career. I feel like I've always been a leader. I feel like I've always been a guy that people come to for advice in different areas, on and off the court. I think it's needed a little more now because most of these guys haven't gone through anything.''
Another big question mark entering this season will be the health of big man Glen Davis.
Davis was having a career-season last year before being sidelined for the season with a broken left foot. He had surgery on it early February, but had to have a follow-up surgery on it in July to replace a screw in the foot.
He will miss the first part of camp at least, and said he is ''day-to-day'' regarding his practice status. He still remains hopeful he won't miss much of the first part of the season.
''It's probably the most difficult thing I've probably ever done,'' Davis said. ''But you understand at the end of the day what you're trying to accomplish. I just want to get back to the floor. I want to get back to the game. As long as I can do that, everything will be OK.''
Challenges aside, Vaughn is ready to get to work Tuesday.
''I think the guys learned a lot about me last year. I learned a lot about them,'' he said. ''I won't have one single practice plan that I had from last year. I'll treat this team individual. That will be my approach.''
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