The Orlando Magic have hired former player Scott Skiles as their next head coach.
General manager Rob Hennigan announced the hiring Friday. An introductory news conference was set for later in the day. The 51-year-old Skiles becomes the 12th coach in franchise history. He follows Jacque Vaughn, who was fired in February.
In a statement Hennigan lauded Skiles’ 13 years as an NBA head coach.
“Scott clearly distinguished himself as a tremendous fit,” Hennigan said. “Our young roster will benefit greatly from Scott’s extensive head coaching experience and commitment to teaching smart, physical, unselfish basketball. We believe in Scott’s ability to establish a culture of winning habits and accountability that will help guide our team in a positive direction.”
Skiles was a member of the Magic’s inaugural team in 1989-90 and played point guard for a total of five seasons in Orlando as part of his 10-year playing career.
He is 13-year veteran NBA coach, with stops in Phoenix, Chicago and Milwaukee. He owns a 443-433 overall coaching record, with his best season coming with the Suns in 2000-01 when they went 51-31.
The Magic’s front office was mostly mum during the coaching search, with Hennigan only acknowledging at the outset that they planned to interview interim coach James Borrego. Borrego led the Magic to a 10-20 record following Vaughn’s dismissal.
It was clear that Magic were interested in hiring a more veteran coach to lead the next step of the Magic’s rebuilding process, following three straight seasons of 25 or fewer wins under Vaughn, a first-time coach.
Though Skiles has only the lone 50-win season as a head coach, he did help the Bulls improve from 23 wins in 2003-04 to 47 victories in his first full season in Chicago. He went on to guide the Bulls to three consecutive playoff appearances, which ended a six-year postseason drought for Chicago.
Skiles also has a reputation of being a no-nonsense presence in the locker room, an extension of his playing days in which he was known as an intense competitor.
He inherits a young roster in Orlando, headlined by big man Nik Vucevic and guards Victor Oladipo and Elfrid Payton. That list also includes forward Tobias Harris, who previously played under Skiles in Milwaukee as a rookie and for part of his second year in the league.
Harris has been a solid part of the Magic’s nucleus since his arrival in Orlando, but becomes a restricted free agent July 1. After hiring a coach, and navigating the upcoming draft, deciding what to do with Harris’s contract is likely the Magic’s next offseason priority.
Orlando, which finished 25-57 and at the bottom of the Southeast division for the third straight season, owns the fifth overall pick for next month’s draft.
Republished with permsision of the Associated Press.