The Orlando Magic are close to firing coach Jacque Vaughn and a change could come soon, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
As embarrassing losses accumulate, Vaughn is rapidly running out of time to show the progress needed to make it through the next several days – never mind the fourth and final year of his contract in 2015-16, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
“It isn’t a matter of ‘if,’ anymore, but ‘when,' ” a source close to the decision-making process told Yahoo Sports about Vaughn’s fading job security.
Vaughn will not be replaced before Orlando meets Dallas on Saturday at Amway Arena, but his job security beyond the start of the two-game trip to Oklahoma City and San Antonio beginning on Monday is uncertain, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
After a 115-100 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks at Amway Arena on Thursday night – the 13th loss in the past 15 games – the Orlando Sentinel reported that the Magic “haven’t ruled out making an in-season coaching change.”
The Magic are 15-34 and have free-fallen into 13th place in the East, and while there was no mandate to make the postseason this year, there was an expectation that Vaughn needed to compete into April for a spot in the playoffs.
This is Vaughn’s third year as the Magic’s coach. Orlando exercised the fourth-year option on Vaughn’s contract over the summer, guaranteeing his salary for the 2015-16 season.
In fact, the lack of a natural candidate to promote to interim head coach from a young, inexperienced staff of assistants has played a part in Orlando management’s hesitancy to have already made a change, sources told Yahoo Sports.
Management has been evaluating Vaughn closely in recent weeks, and played a part in pushing him to play a faster tempo based on the youth and athleticism of the roster, league sources said.
Vaughn was hired to transition the Magic from a veteran-centric roster in the post-Dwight Howard era to a younger, rebuilding model, and he’s been credited with creating an environment of player development and hard work. Nevertheless, the Magic have struggled to grow on the defensive end and make the improvements necessary to compete for the postseason in the Eastern Conference.
Many believe Vaughn could still become a good coach in the NBA, but he might’ve needed a longer apprenticeship as an assistant coach than he had under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio.
General manager Rob Hennigan has overseen a strong infusion of young talent into the Magic, including a backcourt of Victor Oladipo and Elfrid Payton that could anchor the franchise for a decade. Hennigan snagged one of the NBA’s best young big men, Nik Vucevic, in the Dwight Howard trade, and forward Tobias Harris in the J.J. Redick deal. League-wide, Hennigan and his front office staff of Scott Perry and Matt Lloyd are considered to have done a good job acquiring young talent for the rebuilding process.
Nevertheless, Hennigan’s veteran signings in summer free agency – including Channing Frye and Ben Gordon – have failed to help Vaughn compete for the playoffs this season.
The Magic’s poor play at home, losing 11 of 16 games, has invited boos and made harder the proposition of Vaughn holding onto his job without a dramatic turn of events.
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