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With Orlando Magic preparing for a rebuild, Jeff Weltman deserves some faith

Philip Rossman-Reich

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Jeff Weltman, Orlando Magic

The Orlando Magic are getting set to restart their rebuild. There is no doubt of this. The team has petered out at 25 wins last year and a six-year rebuild has left a lot of scarring.

It is with the fan base as much as anyone. The initial reactions from ending sixth in the NBA Draft Lottery have faded. But there was undoubtedly a disappointment.

Following six years of an empty rebuild, the fans wanted to see the team get a top pick and some salvation. Faith in management is at an all-time low. Nobody seems to expect the Magic to make the right pick and get going in the right direction.

That is unfair of course. The first five years were a different management group. And Orlando fired Rob Hennigan a year ago.

Jeff Weltman and John Hammond have had a year to evaluate their roster. Now they will take their time to remake the roster. They will slowly put their fingerprints on the team in the coming months and years.

The one thing the Magic and their fans cannot do is lose faith in management before they even get the chance to start.

Skepticism is healthy. Weltman has made some minor mistakes — his infamous “the draft flattened out” line the most egregious — but nothing to derail his team or its future plans.

Really that is just getting started. And Magic fans will need a little more patience.

And, most importantly, to keep the faith.

My name is Philip Rossman-Reich. I have been following the Orlando Magic almost since birth (i have the baby pictures from the first team practice to prove it) and that passion comes through as I discuss the team. I approach the team with a base of knowledge and history that adds depth to my conversations about the team. I have been covering the Orlando Magic in some form since 2009 (online, at least) and have been a credentialed member fo the media covering the team for Orlando Magic Daily since 2010. In the time I started writing for Orlando Magic Daily, I have grown it into perhaps the most consistent and well-read blog covering the Magic on the Web. I aim to foster discussion with my audience and provide in-depth and detailed analysis of the team, giving historical and basketball perspective few can give.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Larry King Live

    May 23, 2018 at 9:48 pm

    How much did the magic pay you to right this article

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Orlando Magic

Who is Steve Clifford with Walker Mehl of Locked On Hornets

Philip Rossman-Reich

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Steve Clifford, Charlotte Hornets

The Orlando Magic hired Steve Clifford as their new head coach earlier this week.

His reputation seems to precede him. He had a somewhat successful run with the Charlotte Hornets, making the Playoffs twice in five years and resurrecting the franchise to respectability at the very least.

Charlotte was always a team that played strong defense and committed to that end. They were disciplined and limited mistakes on offense. That was enough for Clifford to gain plenty of respect around the league.

But what does he really bring to the table? Can he develop players on the Magic? Is his offense or lack of results a concern?

These are questions only Charlotte Hornets fans can answer. I brought on Walker Mehl of Locked On Hornets to discuss Clifford’s five-year tenure with the team.

Mehl praised Clifford for establishing a culture and developing the players on the team. He believed players reached their ceilings under Clifford. The problem with Charlotte was more injury circumstances and an inability to hit big on draft picks.

That can hamper any team. Charlotte though grew to be a respected team even with a record that was not much to write home about. He is still well thought of around the league.

And so the Magic get a coach with that kind of reputation and with the ability to take a team from the bottom of the league and get them into the Playoff conversation. What more could Orlando ask for today?

The story for Clifford is still yet to be written, of course. There is a lot of work ahead for the Magic. But Clifford seems like a coach capable of getting the job done.

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Orlando Magic

Steve Clifford’s clean slate

Philip Rossman-Reich

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Steve Clifford, Orlando Magic

The Orlando Magic finally have their first foundational piece of the summer in place. They finally have a coach.

The team introduced Steve Clifford as the team’s new head coach, putting in that all-important piece in place for the team to begin building again. Clifford is someone who helped establish a style of play and a culture with the Charlotte Hornets.

They jumped from a bottom-rung team to a perennial Playoff contender in Clifford’s five years. And while the Hornets only made it twice, their expectations were always high and their defense was always good.

Clifford’s teams played with discipline defensively and rarely turned the ball over. This is part of who Clifford is. He is a serious coach with very little frills, it seems. But someone who works with his players to improve.

While the Hornets never accomplished all of their goals, they still were a team that was much improved. Like Orlando, Charlotte fought its way back to relevancy. Clifford helped establish those standards to get there.

But Clifford will also get a clean slate with this roster it appears.

He said during his introductory press conference that he approaches each season with a clean slate. Everything has to start from scratch each year. Every fundamental reinforced and rebuilt.

Clifford would not comment on the current roster, saying he needed time to get to know them and study their games. It is his job to become an expert in his own players’ games.

That is his approach to coaching.

But he should also see a clean slate on the roster too. The Magic need to flip things over and make their roster new, giving Clifford a blank slate to lay his foundation. And more importantly bring in the players that will better fit his defensive-minded, disciplined style.

The Magic’s foundation though got a major piece Wednesday. Now comes the rest of the building blocks.

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Orlando Magic

The Orlando Magic’s star search

Philip Rossman-Reich

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Michael Porter Jr., Missouri Tigers

Now that the Orlando Magic have their head coach, the team’s attention will turn fully toward the NBA Draft and putting the pieces together on the team to take that next step as an organization.

There is no doubt that the sixth pick in the Draft is an important piece to this team’s puzzle. It will bring a player who figures to be a core part of the team moving forward. Along with, at least, Jonathan Isaac.

Orlando needs to find that key piece with this pick. And so everyone has looked to the players with the most star potential as their salvation.

Trae Young and Michael Porter Jr., especially. That is if the first five picks go the way everyone expects.

That is the kind of weight that these picks hold. The question is exactly how will the Magic use it and what exactly will the team target as this foundational piece?

There are plenty of options. The two I mentioned before, then Wendell Carter Jr. and maybe even Mikal Bridges. Fans are not as high on those two players’ potential to bust out as star players. And so the focus remains on Young and Porter most of all.

What is clear though is the Magic need to get that piece in place. No team will go anywhere without its star player in place. And that is what fans hope can come out of this draft.

Orlando seems willing to take a swing to find that star in this run through. The only question that remains is whether they will get it and who that will be.

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