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Archive for the tag “Scott Skiles”

The Tobias Harris Trade: What It Means For Orlando And Detroit

(photo courtesy of Brace Hammelgarn/USA Today Sports)

(photo courtesy of Brace Hammelgarn/USA Today Sports)

The NBA trade deadline is quickly approaching. Many fans are anticipating big moves while others are expecting all talk and no player movement to really speak of. Well, to those that that were expecting something unexpected, it happened on Tuesday. The Orlando Magic traded forward Tobias Harris to Detroit for the services of point guard Brandon Jennings and forward Ersan Ilyasova. The trade of Harris was something that no one really expected, especially since the Magic signed him to a four-year, $64 million dollar contract as a restricted free agent. But nonetheless, the Magic felt it was what they needed to do in moving him. And for the Detroit Pistons, they felt they needed to make one more move to strengthen their team while losing another piece. But what essentially does Harris bring to the Pistons? And what does the combination of Jennings and Ilysova mean for the Magic?

The Pistons have been starting Marcus Morris and Ilysova at the forward spots all season long. And to the credit of both, they have played pretty well. But both are not really considered playmakers at the position. And with both at 26 and 28 respectively, the chances of them both developing into a playmaker is not very high. Tobias is having a bit of a down season this year (averaging his lowest points per game as a member of the Magic at 13.7 points per game). But even with that, he is still shooting better than both of these guys are at the forward position. And in addition to shooting the ball better, Harris is much better playmaker in transition and in the halfcourt offense than Morris and Ilysova. Before the addition of Harris, all the playmaking with the Pistons fell on the shoulders of Reggie Jackson. And although he is having a career year, Jackson will be worn out with the scoring and playmaking duties he has to shoulder each game. Harris alleviates that to an extent and can also allow Jackson to play off the ball some because of Harris’ vision on the court. Another good thing that comes with Harris is the versatility of the frontcourt of the Pistons is still maintained. Harris can play the small and power forward positions and that will allow him to play alongside talented rookie Stanley Johnson at times. The Pistons definitely upgraded their team with this move and also increased their expectations. And with veteran point guard Steve Blake there in Detroit, the Pistons could afford to move Brandon Jennings without fear of a huge dropoff.

In Orlando, it seems that Scott Skiles taking over has had an effect on this team. They are playing harder every night and you can see the improvements. But along with the improvements, you can also see who does and does not fit the system that Skiles wants in Orlando. Harris, unfortunately, just didn’t seem to fit what Skiles wanted despite efficient numbers. With them moving Harris, it now opens up more of a youth movement at the forward position. The Magic drafted Mario Hezonja this past NBA Draft and the rookie has been solid in limited minutes off the bench. The Magic looked like they were going nowhere with their current status quo, so they may as well allow Hezonja to get better and that requires more playing time. With Harris out of the way, look for more lineups with Hezonja and second-year player Aaron Gordon at the forward spots. In acquiring Ilysova and Jennings, the Magic get two veteran players that can be solid for them off the bench. The Magic have been backing up second-year point guard Elfrid Payton with Shabazz Napier. Jennings is an immediate upgrade over Napier and brings along some veteran experience that can help Payton grow on the court. He also is a former player for Skiles in Milwaukee. It should be interesting to see how they get along now. But along with his experience, Jennings also brings along an expiring contract at the end of the year ($8.3 million off the books at the end of the season). If the Magic are able to pull off the rumored trade of backup big man Channing Frye to the Los Angeles Clippers for Lance Stephenson(whom they will reportedly buy out if they acquire him), this is where things could get even more interesting for Orlando. The Frye trade and subsequent cut of Stephenson would give them an additional $9 million more in salary cap freed up going into the summer of 2016. Add that additional $17 million to the cap going up exponentially next year and the Magic will have money, young players and options. One of those options will reportedly be re-signing young guard Evan Fournier, who will be a restricted free agent. But even with that, they will still have money to burn on upgrades to their team. As far as Ilysova, he is there for one reason and one reason along: shooting. He is a former Scott Skiles player from his Milwaukee days (like Jennings) and Skiles knows how to get the best out of him, as Ilysova had two of his best seasons under Skiles. With him coming in off the bench, the Orlando Magic now have more firepower when going to their subs.

Both teams got what they wanted out of this one. The Magic got some cap space, options and a backup point guard. The Pistons got another playmaker and an upgrade at the forward spot. No true winner can be determined in this trade until we see how all players fit (or don’t fit) into their new teams. But on the surface, the Pistons committed highway robbery with this trade.

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The Orlando Magic Underwhelm With The Hire Of Scott Skiles As Their New Head Coach

Scott Skiles is now the head coach of the franchise he used to play for. But this may not be the best decision made for the team. (photo courtesy of www.wn.com)

Scott Skiles is now the head coach of the franchise he used to play for. But this may not be the best decision made for the team. (photo courtesy of http://www.wn.com)

The Orlando Magic started last season looking for progress from third-year coach Jacque Vaughn and his young team. Although they were young, they were a talented squad that some could see making it to the playoffs potentially if they were to reach their ultimate level. Unfortunately, the Magic were the same team they were last year and it seemed like no progress was made. So the organization decided to part ways with Vaughn halfway through the season. The team with so much talent just did not come together under Vaughn’s leadership. The season ended for them mercifully in April and then the search for a new coach began. There were names mentioned like former Scott Brooks and Tom Thibodeau as the next coach of the Magic. But for Orlando, they decided to not hire these coaches in favor of one of the franchise favorites. Scott Skiles was a hard-working player when he played in the NBA. He did not have any skills that were extraordinary, but he was a smart, heady player that left it all on the court. And he can famously be remembered for being an irritant to second-year center Shaquille O’Neal when they were in Orlando together as well as his record of 30 assists in one game in 1990. Well, Skiles will now be returning to where he had his best success as a player. Skiles was officially named the new head coach of the Orlando Magic on this past Friday. And with that, the new era of Magic basketball has begun. But how long will this era last is the question many have.

Skiles has been in the NBA a long time as a coach and has had a few stops. In Phoenix, Chicago and Milwaukee he helped make those teams better and he has a 51% winning percentage in the NBA as a coach. It is undeniable how much he squeezed out of those teams when many did not see the type of things he did. And with most of them, there was not much to work with. But the things that he accomplished with the teams he coached came with a price. Skiles was as demanding as a coach as he was a player. He was tough on players and sometimes overstepped his bounds as a coach. He knew tough love as a coach and some players needed that. But he never knew when to throttle it down on the sideline or at practice. The result of his propensity to continue to push his teams was him ultimately getting fired from two coaching jobs and him resigning from the Milwaukee job. The reason he was fired from two of his coaching jobs he was is because he wore on those teams. Eventually, the players tired of listening to him rant at them about things. His act wore thin and he was jettisoned. In Milwaukee, his resigning was due to him not being very fond of the ownership at the time and who can blame him? At that time ownership was very bad. But the team probably would have fired him there as well if he did not resign due to his abrasive coaching style. In the end, he is a guy that gets results but wears thin on people, including management. In the short-term, he can get some results. But in the long-term, he is not the answer for any team. He is merely a stopgap.

For Orlando, they had a chance to bring back a former player they loved, but they also had a chance to bring in someone that would make a difference in the long run. And by taking a look at Skiles and his coaching career, long-term is something that should never be attached to his name. The Magic have a ton of youth on their team and those players will need some tough love along with some encouragement along the way. Skiles has proven that he is incapable of the encouragement portion and would rather coach NBA players like he is their taskmaster. As time goes on, he will become the frustrating irritant that he was when he played with Shaq in Orlando. And that will eventually drive the Orlando players crazy. The NBA is a player’s league and very seldom do coaches win out over players. In a year or two, the Magic will go from just a young team to a team that could potentially make some noise in the East with guards Elfrid Payton and Victor Oladipo along with big man Nikola Vucevic. Skiles will drive them to success at first, but he will eventually become the one that drives them towards talking to management about getting rid of him. His burnout factor on his players will help usher in a coach that will benefit from what he is trying to build. Honestly, it is amazing that he continues to keep getting jobs despite everyone knowing his history on the sidelines. These young players don’t need a taskmaster like Skiles at the helm. They need a coach that can get the best out of them while knowing how to balance personalities on a team. There is a reason teams Skiles coaches take a drastic dip in his last year coaching them and it’s definitely not the players. Add Orlando to the list of teams that will tire of him eventually and jettison him.

This experiment is one that will not work for the Orlando Magic. They fired Jacque Vaughn and had a chance to bring in better coaches with more success. But instead they fumbled this coaching hire like they have fumbled this franchise for the last four years and hired a guy that has no business even being on a sideline as a head coach again. Congratulations on your head coaching job Scott Skiles. And good luck when you are fired in two or three years and have worn out your welcome.

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