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Report: Magic to interview Ime Udoka for coaching job

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The Spurs assistant is the third reported candidate to land an interview with Orlando

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Denver Nuggets
Gregg Popovich and Ime Udoka
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

In their ongoing search for a head coach, the Magic are now set to interview the man who over the last few seasons has sat directly beside Gregg Popovich.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Magic will soon interview Spurs assistant coach Ime Udoka, who has worked under Popovich in San Antonio since 2012.

Udoka, who played for five teams during an NBA career that spanned from 2003 to 2011, won a championship as an assistant with the Spurs in 2014. The 40-year-old Portland-native is one of multiple Spurs assistants drawing interest from teams with coaching vacancies, including Ettore Messina and James Borrego.

Udoka is the third reported candidate that will interview for the Magic coaching job. Jerry Stackhouse was the first to secure an interview, and last week it was reported that Blazers’ assistant David Vanterpool will also be interviewed.

Udoka has emerged as one of Popovich’s lead assistants, and has also assumed the responsibility of separating Pop from refs when he gets heated, wrote Francis Okupa of ESPN in a recent story. Udoka told Okupa that what he has learned most from Popovich is how to build relationships with players.

“Obviously, showing he cares for them is a big part of it. That’s the thing I’ll probably take away the most, the overall relationship with players. Once they know you care about them you can coach them a certain way and they allow you to coach them, but if it was that easy anybody that has a job would be able to coach guys and that’s not always the case,” he adds.

As we wrote in our Orlando Magic Coaching Power Rankings, Udoka received some high praise from Pop in a story by ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz a few years back about the NBA’s top coaching prospects.

“He exudes a confidence and a comfort in his own skin where people just gravitate to him,” Popovich says. “He’s a fundamentally sound teacher because he’s comfortable with himself, he knows the material and players read it. Often times, I’ll say, ‘Ime, can you go talk to so-and-so? Go talk to Patty Mills, go talk to Timmy, go talk to Kawhi.’ And he’ll do it better than I would do it -- and I’m not blowing smoke. The only thing I don’t like about him is that he doesn’t drink, so I can’t enjoy a glass of wine with him. He’s really boring at dinner.”