Penny for your thoughts after hearing this news?
A dream scenario for some Orlando Magic fans became much more realistic on Sunday after Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that Penny Hardaway has not only interviewed for the Magic’s head coaching job, but is a “serious candidate.”
Hardaway’s name came up immediately following the departure of Steve Clifford earlier this month, but it seemed more nostalgic pipe dream than realistic possibility.
Hardaway just signed a five-year extension to remain head coach at the University of Memphis, his alma mater where he is worshipped. Having not yet led the Tigers to the NCAA Tournament, Hardaway has plenty of unfinished business, as well as a commitment to his highly-touted recruits. And the Magic are thought by many to be in need of a coach with NBA experience who has a proven track record of player development, such as Kenny Atkinson.
So, the timing seemed off. Hardaway then quieted the speculation when asked about the Magic job, but didn’t silence it, carefully choosing his words to leave open the possibility....
Penny Hardaway to @Greg_Gaston and @Eli560 about Orlando Magic job: "I’m definitely flattered by that situation. My heart is in Memphis. I’m here. I love the Tigers. I love our fans. I started off doing something and I want to finish that."— Mark Giannotto (@mgiannotto) June 7, 2021
Now it seems the former All-Star guard, who played for the Magic from 1993 to 1999 and is one of the most beloved players in franchise history, is very much in the running.
San Antonio Spurs assistant Becky Hammon reportedly has also interviewed for the Magic head coaching job. Josh Robbins of The Athletic reported that the Magic have also requested interviews with Phoenix Suns assistant Willie Green and Milwaukee Bucks assistant Charles Lee. The team is also expected to interview Denver Nuggets assistant Wes Unseld Jr., as well as Magic assistants Tyrone Corbin, Pat Delany and Steve Hetzel.
But it this latest report sure makes it sound as if Penny might be the leading candidate.