The Orlando Magic have hired Scott Skiles as their new head coach, general manager Rob Hennigan announced Friday. The deal reportedly involves a four-year contract, according to Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnorowski.
Skiles, a fan favorite as a player during his time in Orlando, was most recently the coach of the Milwaukee Bucks from 2008-13. He replaces former Magic coach Jacque Vaughn, who was fired in February after nearly three seasons as head coach.
Skiles, 51, had long been considered the top candidate to replace Vaughn, as his candidacy has always had the strong backing of Magic ownership and team CEO Alex Martins. However, the New Orleans Pelicans had recently emerged as a suitor of Skiles per the request of general manager Dell Demps, who played under Skiles when he coached in Greece.
The efforts were in vain, and Skiles is now back in Orlando for the first time since 1994, his last as a member of the team. He comes into the Orlando position with a career coaching record of 443-433, reaching the playoffs six out of twelve seasons.
“As we began our search, our internal discussions centered on finding a head coach with a solid resume of NBA head coaching experience, great leadership qualities, a motivating communication style, and someone with a strong strategic acumen,” Martins said in a statement. “We feel Scott brings a balanced approach in all those qualities and we look forward, with great confidence, to him leading our young men in helping us reach our collective goal of sustainable success.”
Skiles has always been known for coaching defensive-minded teams, which should come as a benefit to an Orlando team that finished at No. 25 in points allowed per 100 possessions last season. The Magic have built up a loaded roster of young players in recent seasons, which includes Victor Oladipo, Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton, three top 10 picks from the previous three drafts. Orlando’s hope is that Skiles’ old-school, no-nonsense style of coaching can help extricate all of the potential out of the Magic’s blossoming roster. Skiles’ track record says that his hard-driving tactics should make the Magic a tougher, more competitive style of team.
An original member of the Magic’s expansion team, Skiles made a name for himself as a point guard during his time in Orlando, winning the NBA’s Most Improved Player award in 1991, and also set an NBA record for assists in a game with 30 on Dec. 30, 1990 against Denver.
“Scott clearly distinguished himself as a tremendous fit,” Hennigan added in the team release. “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.”
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