Sources: Scott Skiles progressing toward deal to become Magic coach

The Vertical
Yahoo Sports

Scott Skiles is continuing discussions with the Orlando Magic, inching closer to a partnership to become the franchise's head coach, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Magic officials are convinced that Skiles is the best choice to deliver a young roster into playoff contention and have moved to the cusp of contract negotiations, league sources said.

Conversations between the Magic and Skiles will continue on Thursday in Orlando, league sources said.

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Scott Skiles last coached the Bucks. (AP)
Scott Skiles last coached the Bucks. (AP)

Skiles 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 general manager Rob Hennigan outlined for the search: a successful head-coaching résumé that includes strong emphasis on upgrading Orlando's defense and accountability.

Before turning full attention back to Skiles, Hennigan met with Los Angeles Clippers assistant Mike Woodson in Southern California over the weekend, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

For all the attributes and the successful head-coaching pedigree that made Woodson an intriguing candidate to Orlando management, it appears that it became too difficult for him to overcome the relationships, history and head start that Skiles had all the way to the highest reaches of Orlando's organization.

Woodson built a young, lottery-ridden Atlanta Hawks roster into a consistent playoff team. Atlanta reached the Eastern Conference playoffs three times, including two trips to the East semifinals.

As New York's coach, Woodson led the Knicks to a 54-victory regular season in 2012-13 and their first playoff series victory in 13 years. As interim coach in 2011-12, Woodson won 18 of 24 games to close the regular season and reach the playoffs.

For Orlando, Skiles' ability as a turnaround coach has been of great appeal. In head-coaching stops in Phoenix, Chicago and Milwaukee, Skiles developed a reputation for transforming bad teams into competitive ones, and tightening porous defensive units.

Skiles, 51, has a career regular-season record of 443-433 and is 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 a young core of an intriguing talent, including center Nic Vucevic, forward Tobias Harris, and guards Victor Oladipo and Elfrid Payton.

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