When Rob Hennigan embarked on the monumental task of finding the next head coach of the Orlando Magic, many fans believed it would be a long, drawn-out process. Hennigan, the Magic GM who is known for being tight-lipped and thorough, wasn't going to let his search be brief and potentially set his franchise back further.
While the reported list of candidates interviewed was short--four in total, led by Scott Skiles, whom the team ultimately hired, along with former coach Mark Jackson, Los Angeles Clippers assistant Mike Woodson and soon-to-be Chicago Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg--Hennigan's process was not. According to team CEO Alex Martins, Hennigan "scoured all available, potential applicants and did a lot of research on them," before ultimately going with Skiles, the former gritty point guard who owns the NBA single-game assist record with 30.
The man tasked with building the Magic back into a contender joked around when asked about what had gone on since the team fired then head coach Jacque Vaughn in February. "Yeah, so, since February I've had a birthday, had a beard for a little and shaved that off," he said.
However, the usually serious Hennigan quickly regained his composure, giving some slight background on what had gone on.
"It was a lot of work," he said. "Our staff did a lot of work, a good job of sort of pinpointing what we were looking for, and as the season ended, we started to kickstart that process in earnest and over the last several weeks."
The 33-year-old general manager went on to say, "It was about talking to Scott quite a bit, making sure we were on the same page in a lot of areas, which we are, and talking to a select few candidates elsewhere to do our due diligence on that front. But from the start, it was pretty apparent that Scott was a tremendous fit for us in a lot of ways."
Later, when asked if he would delve any deeper into his coach search, Hennigan echoed his pervious statement. "We talked to a small number of candidates, a select number after we had identified the pool we really wanted to target, and we found our guy," he said. "We found the right guy, and we’re completely enthused with Scott and excited about it. I’ll leave it at that: he’s the guy for us."
While Hennigan clearly did his part, reports suggested that the Magic's owners, the DeVos family, had a lot to do with the hiring of Skiles. One common theme throughout the entire press conference, however, was that the decision was all Hennigan's. Skiles said Martins, who many believed had a big hand in bringing in Skiles as well, only spoke with Skiles twice since the end of the season.
"I know some of the beat guys were a little surprised a few minutes ago when I spoke to them that I only spoke to Alex briefly when the season was over," said Skiles. According to the 51-year-old coach, Martins said, "You know, we’re going to talk to ya." Skiles went on to say he didn't speak to Martins again until Wednesday, when he, Martins, and Hennigan flew to Grand Rapids, Michigan to meet with the DeVos family. Skiles admitted that Martins made it clear that it was "Rob's call" and that Hennigan himself made it clear that it was his call as well.
It's clear that Hennigan had a large part in the decision to hire Skiles, but it would be farfetched to believe that Martins, along with the DeVos family, didn't have some say in the choice as well.
Per the usual, Hennigan and company did their work and found the guy that they wanted and zeroed in on him. While there's still some questions surrounding the hiring, it appears as though the team got the guy that they wanted from the start, and that Hennigan's process just underscored the fact.