In a surprise move, Scott Skiles resigns as Orlando Magic coach

ORLANDO, FL - JANUARY 22: Scott Skiles of the Orlando Magic points during the game against the Charlotte Hornets at Amway Center on January 22, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Charlotte Hornets v Orlando Magic

ORLANDO, FL - JANUARY 22: Scott Skiles of the Orlando Magic points during the game against the Charlotte Hornets at Amway Center on January 22, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

After just one season as head coach of the Orlando Magic — and just 13-plus months after signing a four-year deal with the up-and-coming team — Scott Skiles abruptly resigned from his post on Thursday.

The news, first reported by Orlando Sentinel beat reporter Josh Robbins, came as a shock, even if Skiles left with years left on his coaching contract every step of his career in Phoenix, Chicago and Milwaukee.

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The Magic soon confirmed the news, publishing a statement from Skiles on the team's website:

“After much thought and careful consideration, I and I alone, have come to the conclusion that I am not the right head coach for this team,” said Skiles. “Therefore, effective immediately, I resign my position as head coach of the Orlando Magic. I realize this type of decision can cause much speculation. The reality though is in the first sentence. It is simple and true. Any other rumors are pure conjecture.

“I sincerely apologize for any unintended consequences that may adversely affect anyone associated with this decision,” Skiles continued. “The Magic are a world-class organization that employs world-class people. I wish them nothing but great success. I will always be thankful, especially to the DeVos family, for the opportunity.”

Obviously, Skiles played for the Magic during the organization's golden age from 1989-94, and his return as head coach of a promising young roster was viewed as a homecoming of sorts for the 52-year-old. He steered the Magic to a 35-47 record in his first season, a 10-win improvement from 2014-15, and GM Rob Hennigan certainly seemed stunned at the coach's departure in his own statement to the media:

“While we understand it was a challenging season, we reluctantly have accepted Scott’s (Skiles) resignation,” said Hennigan. “We appreciate Scott instilling a culture of accountability and certainly wish him and his family well.”

That "culture of accountability" quote sure could be interpreted as a kick in the demanding coach's behind on his way out the door. If there's any lingering doubt about whether the Magic were really taken aback by Skiles' exit, Magic wing Evan Fournier put just as swift an end to that. Pardon his French:

It seems coach Scott Skiles' resignation caught Magic wing Evan Fournier off guard. (Twitter)
It seems coach Scott Skiles' resignation caught Magic wing Evan Fournier off guard. (Twitter)

As much as Skiles wanted to dissuade speculation about his resignation, details began to leak almost immediately. In the past, it's been the team asking Skiles to leave after his players grow tired of his hardline approach in the wake of some success, but this time it's the other way around. Why, you ask?

Here's one theory:

 And here's another:

There were also whispers that a rift between Tobias Harris and Skiles, who coached Harris while both Milwaukee and Orlando dealt him, led to the latter pushing for the former's deadline trade to the Detroit Pistons, for two more of Skiles' ex-players — point guard Brandon Jennings and forward Ersan Ilyasova.

Now, three months after the Magic traded the 23-year-old Harris, whose production helped the Pistons hold Orlando and others at bay in the race for the Eastern Conference's eighth seed, Skiles is gone.

It's all pure conjecture, of course. Maybe none of that had anything to do with Skiles. Maybe he has a better job lined up elsewhere. Or maybe he just needed a break. Either way, Skiles' exit leaves Hennigan scrambling for a replacement while some of the better coaches available have already found jobs.

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Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Ball Don't Lie and Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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