Feb 5, 2015 5:56 PM
Magic fire coach Jacque Vaughn; GM says team stuck in a rut
The Associated Press
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) For several weeks, Orlando Magic general manager Rob Hennigan has felt the team has been stuck in a rut. He's hoping a change of leadership on the bench will get them out of it.
Citing a "stalled" growth process, the Magic fired Jacque Vaughn as coach Thursday after two and half seasons, ending the tenure of the first-time head coach brought in to help rebuild the franchise.
The Magic made the move following a 15-37 start to the season and after a series of lopsided losses during a 10-game losing streak. It is the Magic's second skid of at least five games since the start of 2015. Orlando was also 15-37 through 52 games last season.
Assistant James Borrego has been named interim coach. Hennigan wouldn't disclose a timeline for naming Vaughn's successor, but said the team is "100 percent" behind Borrego, and that he would have an opportunity to vie for the job on a full-time basis.
"We went into this season wanting to see some progress," Hennigan said Thursday afternoon. "We wanted to see growth. We just didn't feel like we were seeing the type of growth that we wanted to see. So that led us to this point.
"We find ourselves in a little bit of a rut...but it's a road bump, not a road block. We will get through this."
Assistant coaches Brett Gunning, Wes Unseld Jr., and advanced scouting manager Zack Guthrie were also fired. Laron Profit and Jay Hernandez, who both formerly worked in player development, were elevated to serve as Borrego's assistants.
Borrego said he plans to focus on improving the Magic's defense. Despite being as healthy has the Magic have been all season, the Magic have given up 100 or more point in 14 consecutive games. They've also lost five of their last six at home, where they are just 5-17 this year.
"I'm ready for the challenge," Borrego said.
The 39-year-old Vaughn ends his Orlando tenure with a 58-158 overall record.
Vaughn's dismissal comes having the fourth-year option of his contract picked up by the team this this past offseason.
"There's never an ideal time to make a change of this magnitude," Hennigan said. "As the season progressed, we just felt like a change needed to be made and we felt this was the time to do it. Plain and simple."
Vaughn struggled to help his team show improvement after a massive offseason influx of players, which included the addition of free agent Channing Frye.
The final tipping point came following the Magic's 110-103 loss at San Antonio on Wednesday.
The most recent losing streak has also included perplexing losses to some of the NBA's worst clubs in Detroit, Charlotte, L.A. Lakers, and New York.
Both Vaughn and Hennigan were hired three seasons ago to lead the rebuild of the club following the departure of franchise stalwart Dwight Howard. In picking up the option year for Vaughn and Hennigan this summer, the belief was that team management wanted to give both an opportunity to lead a team built to make the playoffs.
This past offseason also included the club's most extensive roster makeover since their arrivals. The moves brought in eight new players, including veterans Frye and Ben Gordon, to fortify a roster that already featured a young core of Victor Oladipo and Nik Vucevic.
But the team struggled out of the gate when both Oladipo and the free agent pickup Frye suffered preseason knee injuries. Frye only missed the opener with a sprained left ACL. Oladipo followed up his right MCL sprain with facial fracture that caused him to miss the first nine games.
Despite the changes on the coaching staff, Magic CEO Alex Martins said Hennigan's job is "very secure" and said he is pleased with the talent he has been able to assemble.
"This is just a short bump in the road. This can easily get back on track," Martins said. "We believe we have a great deal of talent on our roster. That's not to say we don't need to continue to grow that roster. We're realistic about that. But we believe in our players."
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