After a season in which the Orlando Magic blew it up and traded away their core, the feeling coming into this offseason was that the head coach position was one where they would at least have some stability. Steve Clifford having overseen two postseason appearances, trying to win with a group of players that clearly had a ceiling.
In a statement that surprised a lot of fans, the Magic and Clifford agreed to part ways late last week. Clifford has had health issues dating back to his time in charge of the Charlotte Hornets, and he was brought in to maximize the veteran talent on the roster.
Once the direction of the organization changed it was unclear where Clifford fit into the long-term thinking of the front office, although there were plenty who felt he would do a good job in bringing along young players like Cole Anthony, R.J. Hampton and Wendell Carter Jr. Now he is gone, and a replacement is needed ahead of what is an important draft for the Magic.
The Orlando Magic find themselves looking for a new head coach to take over at a crucial time, and these three individuals fit the bill.
With so many young players in place, including the injured Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz, putting the right head coach alongside one of the most intriguing young cores is not easily done. In an ideal world this coach will grow alongside the group, right up until they hopefully return to the playoffs again in the next few years.
The Magic have been here before and gotten it wrong, hiring Jacque Vaughn during their prolonged rebuild after Dwight Howard left town. He was a young coach who was meant to grow with the core, but that didn’t happen. Other misfires who have succeeded elsewhere include James Borrego and Frank Vogel. This hire will not be easy, but these three candidates stick out for different reasons and possible directions the organization could go.