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Scott Skiles has emerged as the strong frontrunner to become head coach of the Orlando Magic, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Magic general manager Rob Hennigan has discussed the opening with several possible candidates, but Skiles has clearly separated himself in the process, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Although Orlando has thus far shown no inclination to rush into a hiring, discussions could soon advance into contract negotiations, league sources said.
Skiles, 51, has been the preferred choice of Orlando ownership, which has been fond of him since his playing days with the Magic in the 1990s. Skiles fits the candidate profile that Hennigan privately outlined for the coaching search: a successful head-coaching résumé that includes strong emphasis on upgrading Orlando’s defense and accountability.
In head-coaching stops in Phoenix, Chicago and Milwaukee, Skiles developed a reputation for turning bad teams into competitive ones, and tightening porous defensive units. Nevertheless, Skiles also built a reputation for burning out teams and wearing out a path to his exit.
Orlando had interest in discussing its opening with Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, but the Magic haven’t wanted to offer draft compensation for the chance to acquire him, league sources said. Chicago management has been waiting for a team to offer a draft pick to hire Thibodeau, but so far that hasn’t happened. The Bulls seem determined to hold on to Thibodeau until the league’s job vacancies fill, and a firing in Chicago would likely leave him out of coaching next season.
Skiles has a career regular-season coaching record of 443-433 and 18-24 in the playoffs. He reached the conference semifinals once each in Phoenix and Chicago.
Orlando fired Jacque Vaughn in February and finished a 25-57 season with interim coach James Borrego. The Magic have an intriguing young core of talent, including center Nikola Vucevic, guards Victor Oladipo and Elfrid Payton, and forward Tobias Harris, who is a restricted free agent.
Skiles resigned as Bucks coach in 2013 and has been living in the Orlando area for most of the time since his dismissal.
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