The Orlando Magic have fired coach Jacque Vaughn.
Vaughn, 39, was informed of the decision on Thursday in Orlando, ending his tenure less than three years after his hiring. The Magic are 15-37 this season.
The players were informed at a meeting at 1 p.m. EST.
Assistant coach James Borrego will become the interim head coach.
Scott Skiles, a popular ex-Orlando Magic player and former head coach with Phoenix, Chicago and Milwaukee, has emerged as a serious candidate to eventually take over as head coach, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Orlando will consider his possible hiring during the All-Star break next week, or could possibly wait until season's end and do an extended search. Nevertheless, the firing of three assistant coaches Thursday – Wes Unseld Jr., Brett Gunning and Zack Guthrie – as reported by the Orlando Sentinel, suggests a new head coach could come sooner than later.
There has been no contact between the Magic and Skiles' camp, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
As the Magic move toward a tougher, more disciplined regime, ex-Sacramento Kings coach Mike Malone could become a consideration, too.
Another candidate with a winning track record, Vinny Del Negro, is also available in the short-term.
The Magic are beginning to gather intelligence on potential candidates, and there are some close to Skiles who still are unsure about the organization's sincerity in considering him as a candidate. Skiles has a relationship with assistant GM Matt Lloyd dating back to their time together in the Bulls organization, but Skiles doesn't have a working history with anyone else in the current front office.
Orlando GM Rob Hennigan traveled with the team to San Antonio Wednesday night, a rare occurrence for the team executive, where the Magic lost its 10th straight game. The decision to replace Vaughn had been made in recent weeks, but the timing of Friday's game with the Los Angeles Lakers in Orlando and the All-Star break coming up figured to give Vaughn's successor a better chance at a solid start.
Orlando exercised the fourth-year option on Vaughn’s contract over the summer, guaranteeing his salary for the 2015-16 season. The Magic owe Vaughn $2.2 million for 2015-16, sources told Yahoo Sports.
Management had 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, where he spent two seasons from 2010-12.
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.
Vaughn, who became head coach of the Magic on July 27, 2012, went 58-158 during his run with the franchise.