ORLANDO, Fla. – The Orlando Magic moved quickly to fill their coaching vacancy, agreeing to a deal with Frank Vogel just a week after the position suddenly became available.
Vogel and Magic officials met during the day Thursday and reached a deal, which will not be final until Friday afternoon, said a person with knowledge of the negotiations. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the Magic have not announced the hire.
Vogel replaces Scott Skies, who surprised the organization when he resigned last Thursday. Vogel comes to Orlando as a proven head coach with playoff experience having led the Indiana Pacers the last five full seasons.
The 42-year-old Vogel did not have his Indiana contract renewed following this season. The Pacers made the playoffs but were bounced in the first round by the Toronto Raptors. During Vogel’s tenure with Indiana he compiled a 250-181 regular-season record. He was also 31-30 in the playoffs.
During a news conference last Thursday, team CEO Alex Martins and general manager Rob Hennigan both said they wanted a coach who has strong defensive principles and can connect with the players.
Vogel succinctly fits what the Magic were looking for in a coach. His Pacer teams were usually one of the top defensive clubs in the NBA, finishing in the top six in field-goal percentage defense in each of his five full seasons as head coach. The Pacers were also top 10 in the league in defensive efficiency under Vogel.
He inherits one of the youngest rosters in the NBA, but also one stocked with talent. The Magic are building around young players like Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon, Victor Oladipo and Efrid Payton.
The Magic are hopeful they are just a couple of veteran pieces away from returning to the playoffs after missing the postseason four straight seasons. They also say they are looking to re-sign free agent forward Evan Fournier, who will hit the market in July.
The team made some strides under Skiles in his only season, improving by 10 wins this season to finish 35-47. Were it not for a horrible January in which they went 2-12, most believe they would have made the postseason this year.
Since Pacers director of operations Larry Bird announced last month that Vogel’s contract would not be renewed he has been connected most of the openings. There was said to be some interest from the New York Knicks and Memphis Grizzlies in addition to Orlando. But the Magic emerged as a strong possibility this week.
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