The Orlando Magic's coaching search continues to heat up, with yet another name throwing his hat into the ring. Former Denver Nuggets coach Brian Shaw is reportedly "very interested" in coaching the Magic, according to Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel. Shaw, who played for the Magic from 1994-1997, has 'absolutely' expressed an interest in coaching his former team if, and when, the job opens up this offseason.
It's easy to see why Shaw would be interested in the Magic. He's currently out of a job, and the Magic would offer familiarity as well as a talented young roster. But it's hard to see why the Magic would be interested in hiring Shaw. Shaw was a disaster in Denver, clashing with players and failing to connect with the team. He led the Nuggets to an ugly 56-85 record, taking a roster that won 57 games by exemplifying teamwork and chemistry and turning it into an unmotivated and underachieving mess.
Mike Prada recently examined all of Shaw's shortcomings which led to his failure in Denver, and it's clear that those same issues could arise again in Orlando. Shaw, despite being relatively young and a former player himself, struggled to form a connection with the younger players on his team, making misguided efforts that only served to further alienate himself. The Magic happen to have a lot of young guys on their team, and as the roster continues to grow, it might be beneficial to have a coach who can actually, you know, talk to them and form a connection with them.
Shaw also infamously clashed with virtually every point guard on his roster. He benched Andre Miller, who responded by calling him out for what he perceived as unprofessionalism. He was also called out by Jameer Nelson, and according to Zach Lowe, he had several tense moments with Ty Lawson. Given that young Elfrid Payton projects as a huge part of the Magic's future, Shaw's repeated issues with his point guards should raise a red flag. It would be a different scenario, as the aforementioned three are veterans while Payton would be in is second season, but that factor may only make it worse.
Shaw will probably get another coaching job down the line, likely as an assistant, but it shouldn't be in Orlando. The Magic are finally close to competing, and they would benefit from adding a proven, experienced coach who's been to the playoffs and has what it takes to take the team to the next level. And without many current coaching vacancies in the NBA, the Magic may not have as much trouble as you'd think finding a viable candidate.
Despite the team's lack of recent success, the Magic should be an attractive gig if the job remains vacant. The team has a nice collection of young talent, led by Nikola Vucevic (19.7 points per game, 11.2 rebounds per game, 22.2 PER) and Victor Oladipo (17.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, four assists), and although rookies Payton and Aaron Gordon need some work, they have a lot of potential. Throw in a the possible return of restricted free agent Tobias Harris, a potentially large amount of cap space, and a high lottery pick, and you can see the foundation of a competitive squad. It may not be a dream job, but a new coach could do a lot worse.
There are a lot of big name candidates out there, and nearly all of them would be a better fit than Shaw. Mark Jackson drew a lot of criticism during the end of his tenure with the Golden State Warriors, but he made the a better team, and he can connect with and motivate young players. Mike D'Antoni may not be a perfect fit, but he's experienced and has had playoff success, and his up-tempo style would make the Magic infinitely more entertaining. Mike Malone has gained momentum as a future candidate following his questionable dismissal in Sacramento, and Warriors assistant Alvin Gentry's up-tempo, defense oriented style could mesh very well with the Magic's personnel.
And we haven't even mentioned the incumbent, interim coach James Borrego, who is putting on a solid audition for the full-time gig. The team is 6-6 under Borrego, but they've been very competitive in their losses, and they've started to make some progress. The players seem to like and respect Borrego, continuing to play hard for him despite a lost season, and the team has made some tangible improvements on defense. If the Magic do end up choosing an inexperienced coach going forward, they'd be much better of keeping Borrego rather than choosing a guy who torpedoed the last young team he took over.
Bottom line: Brian Shaw should be near the very bottom of Orlando's list of prospective coaches. His brief tenure in Denver did little to inspire confidence, and with several better, more experienced, and more qualified candidates floating out there, it's hard to see the Magic having a great deal of mutual interest.