The Orlando Magic have fired general manager Rob Hennigan after five years with the organization. Assistant GM Matt Lloyd will serve as the interim general manager and is a candidate to take over full-time.
“We appreciate Rob’s efforts to rebuild the team, but feel we have not made any discernible improvement over the last few years specifically,’’ CEO Alex Martins said. “It’s time for different leadership in basketball operations. We certainly wish Rob and his family well.
“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 added.
Hennigan’s firing comes as little surprise as the Magic failed to take any sort of step forward in 2016-17, and Hennigan’s biggest offseason move backfired tremendously. Orlando dealt Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and 11th overall pick Domantas Sabonis to the Thunder for Serge Ibaka. That move clogged up the Magic frontcourt and eventually led to Ibaka being shipped off to Toronto ahead of the trade deadline for Terrence Ross and a late first round pick.
That trade is only the tip of the iceberg for what has gone wrong recently in Orlando. Seemingly nothing Hennigan tried worked out as anticipated. He signed Bismack Biyombo as the team’s top free agent acquisition, which only further stacked up the frontcourt log jam, and Biyombo has not played at the level he did in Toronto a year ago.
The draft has been no kinder in recent years. Last year’s No. 7 overall pick Mario Hezonja has yet to pan out and, whether Sabonis is good or not, they sent him out of town before knowing what he may or may not be.
The Ibaka trade seemed to indicate that Hennigan was feeling the pressure to win now, and when that failed to work, he did his best to mitigate the damage with the Ross trade, but the damage was done. The question is whether the next general manager can find a way to clean out the roster that has some quality pieces, but is in major need of an overhaul, and successfully build the Magic back up.
Where the ping-pong balls fall this June may have a big say in how quickly that change can be made — Orlando will have the fifth-best lottery odds.