The Orlando Magic are officially entering a youth movement and as such are in need of a coach who is ready to work and grow with a young team. After shipping Evan Fournier and Nikola Vucevic off at the trade deadline, the Magic made their intentions clear for a rebuild and unsurprisingly that led to Steve Clifford and the Magic parting ways after the season.
With the need to connect to a young squad, the Magic are apparently looking to the college ranks — and a former franchise legend — for their next head coach. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Penny Hardaway recently interviewed with Orlando and is a “serious candidate” to leave Memphis for the NBA and take over as coach of the team that drafted him.
Hardaway has been at Memphis since 2018, getting that job for his abilities as a developer of talent and how he can connect with the current generation of young stars at the high school and college level. Both of those are skills the Magic are looking for as they enter a rebuild around key pieces like Jonathan Isaac, Markelle Fultz, Cole Anthony, and others, so Hardaway makes sense from a skill perspective and from a fan interest standpoint.
As for other candidates, Josh Robbins and Charania offered a look at a complete list of potential candidates beyond Hardaway.
According to The Athletic’s Josh Robbins, the Magic also requested permission to interview Suns assistant Willie Green and Bucks assistant Charles Lee, and are expected to interview Denver Nuggets assistant coach Wes Unseld Jr. as well as three assistants on ex-coach Steve Clifford’s staff: Tyrone Corbin, Pat Delany and Steve Hetzel. Spurs assistant Becky Hammon, who was a finalist for the Blazers opening, has already interviewed with Orlando.
If nothing else, Hardaway would bring some intrigue to an Orlando franchise that could use it.