The Orlando Magic’s seemingly interminable search for a head coach ended Saturday when they named former NBA reserve point guard Jacque Vaughn as Stan Van Gundy’s replacement.
Vaughn, 37, was a player who made the most of his limited skill set, playing 12 years in the league before retiring in 2009. He has never been a head coach and only has two years as an assistant coach with San Antonio.
It was a painstaking process for the Magic, who interview nearly a dozen candidates. In the end, they create a group of finalists that included Michael Curry, a former Detroit head coach and current assistant in Philadelphia; and the Phoenix Sun’s development coach Lindsey Hunter. They also interviewed Indiana associate head coach Brian Shaw, who seemed a lock for the job at one point.
“As we navigated through our coaching search, we quickly saw that Jacque’s spirit and leadership strengths made him the clear choice,” general manager Rob Hennigan said in a statement. “We are confident that his diligence, attention to detail and communication style will help establish the bedrock of our culture moving forward. His commitment and passion to building a sustainable program will help steer our organization for years to come.”
Vaughn becomes the 10th coach in team history and replaces Van Gundy, who was fired on May 21 despite compiling a 259-135 regular-season record, franchise-best .657 winning percentage and a 31-28 playoff record.
Former Orlando Magic Shaquille O’Neal indicated he was dismayed that the Magic would choose Vaughn over Shaw and Golden State lead assistant coach Mike Malone.
O’Neal posted on Twitter: “Orlando magic is about to hire jock Vaughn over mike Malone or Brian shaw are u kidding me, wow, good luck winning wit Dat team Dwite Howard.”
Clearly, the Magic are relying on Vaughn’s knowledge from playing under San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich and Boston’s Doc Rivers, who are both championship coaches.