The Orlando Magic turned to Scott Skiles at head coach following a disastrous two-and-a-half-year stretch under Jacque Vaughn, but it turns out former point guards may not be the best choice to lead the rebuilding Eastern Conference club.
The organization announced Thursday that Skiles resigned after just one season at the helm. Skiles released a statement on his decision:
After much thought and careful consideration, I and I alone, have come to the conclusion that I am not the right head coach for this team. Therefore, effective immediately, I resign my position as head coach of the Orlando Magic. I realize this type of decision can cause much speculation. The reality though is in the first sentence. It is simple and true. Any other rumors are pure conjecture.
I sincerely apologize for any unintended consequences that may adversely affect anyone associated with this decision. The Magic are a world-class organization that employs world-class people. I wish them nothing but great success. I will always be thankful, especially to the DeVos family, for the opportunity.
"While we understand it was a challenging season, we reluctantly have accepted Scott's resignation," said general manager Rob Hennigan. "We appreciate Scott instilling a culture of accountability and certainly wish him and his family well."
Brian Windhorst of ESPN reported that "philosophical differences" were the "central reason" Skiles resigned, but Windhorst noted the coach was "also unhappy an option year in contract" was not picked up by the franchise.
Orlando made a marked improvement in 2015-16, going 35-47 after winning just 25 games in 2014-15, but Skiles won't stick around to see if the development continues.
Sirius XM radio host Justin Termine offered insight into Skiles' tenure with the Magic shortly after Thursday's announcement:
Although Orlando got off to a rocking 19-13 start through December, the roof caved in when the calendar flipped to 2016. The Magic encountered separate losing streaks of four and eight games in January and finished with a 2-12 record in the first month of the new year, and that downward spiral ultimately paved the way for another draft lottery appearance.
|Orlando's 2015-16 Season By Month|
For a team stocked with so much quality young talent, Orlando has yet to take long developmental strides that would indicate the team is capable of competing on the postseason stage. Until the franchise pegs a coach who can maximize the strengths of a squad loaded with lottery picks, a perpetual cycle of mediocrity will define the Magic.
Up-and-coming stars such as Nikola Vucevic, Victor Oladipo and Evan Fournier enjoyed excellent statistical seasons under Skiles, and the next coach will be tasked with ensuring their continued growth assuming they all remain on the roster in 2016-17.
Fournier seems to be upset about Skiles' decision (warning: following tweet is NSFW):
It is unclear if Skiles intends to entertain other coaching offers, but he has worked wonders by leading struggling franchises to prominence quite often during his career.
Although his career record is just 478-480, Skiles led the Phoenix Suns, Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks to playoff appearances prior to his short stint with the Magic.
Skiles had Orlando contending for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference during the early part of the season. Although he could not maintain that momentum over the course of the entire campaign, his track record is one that should appeal to franchises interested in reversing their fortunes.