Several candidates have emerged in the Orlando Magic’s bid to replace Jacque Vaughn as the team’s new head coach, reports said. The Magic fired Vaughn Thursday after a 15-37 start to the 2014-15 NBA season and named assistant James Borrego as the team’s interim head coach.
Former NBA player and coach Scott Skiles, who most recently appeared as the head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks from 2008 to 2013, is considered a “serious candidate” to replace Vaughn, sources familiar with the situation told Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski. Magic officials have yet to contact Skiles about the team’s coaching vacancy, but will consider his candidacy by as soon as NBA All-Star Weekend, which begins Feb. 13. The team will also consider waiting until the end of the season to replace Vaughn.
Skiles has ties to Orlando assistant general manager Matt Lloyd from the pair’s time together with the Chicago Bulls. However, sources close to Skiles remain unconvinced the Magic plan to extend him an offer, as Lloyd is his only contact within the organization.
Aside from his time with the Bucks, Skiles coached the Chicago Bulls from 2003 to 2008 and the Phoenix Suns from 1999 to 2002. He owns a 443-433 career record as a head coach and led his teams to postseasons berths on six occasions.
Mike Malone, who was fired as coach of the Sacramento Kings in December despite improved performance from the team’s young roster, was also named as a possible candidate. Malone struggled to win during his time in Sacramento, but ran a disciplined ship and was considered instrumental to the development of the team’s star center, DeMarcus Cousins, according to NBC Sports’ Pro Basketball Talk.
Former Los Angeles Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro is another potential replacement for Vaughn, according to the Yahoo Sports report. Del Negro, 48, does not currently hold a coaching position and would be able to take over the Magic immediately. He last coached in the NBA in 2013, but he won at a .533 clip during his time in Los Angeles and Chicago.
Aside from Skiles and Malone, well-regarded former coaches Mark Jackson and George Karl could also be in contention, according to a report by Basketball Insiders’ Alex Kennedy. Sources identified Skiles as “the frontrunner” but noted Jackson, who led the Golden State Warriors to back-to-back winning seasons from 2012 to 2014, is also a candidate.
Karl is considered a dark horse option for the Magic. The 63-year-old owns a .599 career winning percentage and hasn’t coached a team to a losing record since 1988, according to Basketball Reference. His last NBA job came as head coach from the Denver Nuggets, a position from which he was fired in 2013 despite leading the franchise to a 57-win season. Sources close to Karl said he would be interested coaching the Magic, and Karl took to Twitter Friday to confirm that assessment.
I wanted to address everyone's questions & comments in regards to my coaching career. Here is my official statement. pic.twitter.com/i4rN5wjoRh
— George Karl (@CoachKarl22) February 6, 2015
The Magic exercised the fourth-year option on Vaughn’s contract ahead of this season, but opted to fire him after the team’s poor first half. Orlando has lost 16 of its last 18 games. Vaughn had a 58-158 record during his time with the franchise.
“I am a stronger and wiser man and coach because of the opportunity,” Vaughn said in a statement, according to ESPN. “I look forward to seeing this group continue to grow.”