In difficult times, it is human nature to get back to what you know best. Could Penny Hardaway be making a return back to Orlando? The Magic are currently searching for answers as this past season has proven to be a fresh start if you will.
After finishing as the 7th/8th in back-to-back years, the Magic have gotten bounced out of the first round. Thus, Orlando decided to blow up the team during this year’s past trade deadline and mutually parted ways with head coach Steve Clifford.
They traded their nucleus of star bug man, Nikola Vucevic, young forward Aaron Gordon, and guard Evan Fournier. In return, they acquired some draft picks and brought in some young talent such as Wendell Carter Jr.
Orlando Hoping for a Magic Rebuild
While Orlando did play competitively with Clifford at the helm, they decided to start fresh because they did not see a path to a deep postseason run. Rumors have been circulating around the former Magic star, Penny Hardway, returning to Orlando to coach his former team.
Currently, Hardway is coaching the Tigers at the University of Memphis where he is coming off a 20-8 record. Since he’s gotten there in 2018, the Tigers have gone 63-32 in three seasons.
In his playing days, Penny Hardaway was a star point guard with Orlando from 1993-1999. During that time span, he averaged 19 points per game, 6.3 assists and 4.7 rebounds.
More importantly, he guided the Magic to the Conference Finals in the 1994-1995 season and made it to the NBA finals the following year in 1995-1996 with a young Shaquille O’Neal by his side.
If Hardaway does return to Orlando, one thing is for certain, the fans would absolutely love it. In fact, I would not be surprised if ticket sales go up dramatically. After all, Hardaway may be the spark the Magic needs to reach true relevancy again.
Frankly speaking, Orlando has not been a true contender since their days with Dwight Howard. They made it to the NBA Finals against the Lakers in 2009 and lost in the Eastern Conference Finals to the Celtics the following year.
Since then, they have missed the playoffs five out of the last nine years, and have yet to win a single playoff series.
From Orlando’s perspective, Hardaway may be a decent option for them to run their team given the fact that he has had decent success at Memphis. Furthermore, it does not hurt that he was a star in the NBA.
Nowadays, players gravitate towards young “players coaches” who have had experience in the league. Look at Jason Kidd who has just been hired by his third NBA team or Chauncy Billups who has been hired by the Portland Trailblazers.
Organizations at the end of the day understand that having young players/stars buying into what a coach believes in is the first step towards success. Veteran coaches are starting to fade away while young player-coaches are starting a new trend.
Wrapping Things Up
From Hardaway’s perspective, I find it very difficult to believe that he will succeed in Orlando if he does take the job given the lack of talent. With that being said, NBA coaching opportunities come very seldomly.
If Penny can galvanize the fan base, and more importantly develop their ensuing draft pick selections, I see Hardaway starting off his professional coaching career off the right start. If not, however, it could get ugly for him fast, and may not get another coaching job again.
That’d be all for our Orlando Magic rebuild news. What are your thoughts on all this? Do you think Hardaway is the right option for the Magic going forward?