Sports Outside the Beltway

Orlando Magic coach Brian Hill fired

He was doing as second stint with the NBA team.

Magic General Manager Otis Smith fired Brian Hill as coach on Wednesday because he didn’t believe Hill would get the most out of the team with his style and strategy if he returned.

Some of the issues in deciding Hill’s fate, according to those close to the situation, were Hill’s inability to adjust during the Magic’s midseason slump; his lack of offensive imagination; and whether he was developing young players Dwight Howard, Darko Milicic, Jameer Nelson, Trevor Ariza and rookie J.J. Redick to their potential.


Hill’s second dismissal in Orlando was not a complete surprise even though he led the Magic to their first playoff appearance since 2003 this past season. They were swept in four games by the Detroit Pistons.

Team President Bob Vander Weide three weeks ago initially injected doubt into Hill’s job status with his comments to the Sentinel.

But in the end, it was Smith who made the call, ultimately frustrated by developments during a 40-42 season and eyeing a coach who could take the club to the next level.

With Vander Weide residing in Grand Rapids, Mich., Smith — in his first year as a full-time general manager — was with the Magic nearly every day and kept Vander Weide informed.

Last Friday, Hill had a pivotal meeting with Smith and Vander Weide (Vander Weide attended via a conference call) at RDV Sportsplex.

Vander Weide, son-in-law of Magic owner Rich DeVos, had said that the “process” of evaluating Hill and the basketball operations could take “two to three weeks.” It stretched to the full three weeks largely because Hill went on a short vacation, Smith was out of a town for a period and Vander Weide was busy with the club’s arena issues and other projects.

Hill, 59, was unavailable for comment. He had two years remaining on his contract, although the club held the option for a fourth season. Smith was calling players to inform them of the decision.

Hill’s coaching staff was still in place as of late Wednesday. A news conference is expected today. The Magic are looking for their fourth coach since Doc Rivers was fired in the 2004 season.


Hill was hired for the second time by the Magic on May 24, 2005, taking over for interim coach Chris Jent. Jent had replaced Johnny Davis, who was fired as head coach.

In his first season back with the team in 2005-06, Hill led the Magic to a 36-46 record — the same record they compiled under Davis and Jent the previous season.

This past season, the Magic jumped to a 13-4 start but faded badly before making a furious run to barely reach the playoffs as a No.8 seed.

To me, it sounds like management has a case of ‘thinking the grass is greener elsewhere’. Two years to turn around this mediocre NBA franchise isn’t a great deal of time in my opinion. Then I’m not a impatient owner of a sports franchise. Results are always expected today if not sooner.

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