Magic Rumors: Nuggets' Wes Unseld Jr. Gets 2nd Interview for Head Coach Job

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJuly 1, 2021

DENVER, CO - APRIL 7: Assistant Coach, Wes Unseld Jr.  of the Denver Nuggets signals to his team during the game against the San Antonio Spurs on April 7, 2021 at the Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado. 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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images)
Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

Denver Nuggets assistant coach Wes Unseld Jr. has reportedly "emerged as a serious candidate" to fill the Orlando Magic's head coaching vacancy.

Josh Robbins and Shams Charania of The Athletic reported Thursday the Magic started the "next phase" of their coaching search by conducting a second interview with Unseld.

It's unclear how many candidates will receive second interviews. Others who've spoken with Orlando's front office include Willie Green (Phoenix Suns), Becky Hammon (San Antonio Spurs) and three of the team's own assistant coaches (Tyrone Corbin, Pat Delany and Steve Hetzel), per The Athletic.

University of Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway, who starred for the Magic during the first seven seasons of his NBA playing career in the mid-to-late 1990s, also spoke with the team but announced Tuesday he's staying with the Tigers to chase a college basketball national championship.

Orlando is seeking to replace Steve Clifford, who mutually parted ways with the organization in early June after the Magic failed to qualify for the playoffs. He posted a 96-131 record in three seasons that included two postseason appearances.

Unseld is seeking to become an NBA head coach for the first time after 16 years as an assistant. Before joining the Nuggets' staff in 2015, he spent time with the Washington Wizards, Golden State Warriors and Magic.

The Maryland native served as an assistant in Orlando under Jacque Vaughn from 2012 through 2015.

He was promoted to associate head coach by the Nuggets in December, and Denver head coach Michael Malone vouched for him as a future head coach.

"Wes is extremely deserving of this promotion. He is one of the hardest-working people I've come across in this league and he has been an integral part of my coaching staff since we both arrived in Denver in 2015," Malone said. "I've said it many times over the years that Wes is ready and deserving of a head coaching position in the NBA, and it's only a matter of time until that day comes."

While the Magic finished the 2020-21 season with the NBA's third-worst record at 21-51, they do have young roster with seven players 22 or younger under contract for next season and own the No. 5 pick in a talent-rich 2021 draft.