SBD/May 25, 2012/Franchises

Magic To Begin GM Interviews Next Week, While Shaq Decides Not To Pursue

Shaq said Thursday that he hopes to stay in his role on TNT for "many more years"
Magic CEO Alex Martins "expects to begin interviewing" GM candidates next week, according to Josh Robbins of the ORLANDO SENTINEL. Because the team's new head of basketball operations "will spearhead the search for a new head coach and because the NBA Draft looms on June 28 ... time is of the essence." Martins has "identified championship experience as a 'plus' for candidates" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 5/25). Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski noted when the Magic start interviewing GM candidates next week, “you’re going to see a traditional group of candidates.” Wojnarowski said the Magic have an ownership “that’s willing to spend money” and have “always been committed to spending the money it takes to win so in talking to potential candidates, there’s a great deal of interest there." However, he added there is a "level of chaos around the Orlando organization right now" (“NBC Sports Talk,” NBC Sports Network, 5/24).

SHAQ DENIES INTEREST: The SENTINEL's Robbins reported TNT analyst and former NBAer Shaquille O'Neal's "flirtation with the Orlando Magic's front office didn't last long," as O'Neal Thursday released a statement saying he was not going pursue the job. O'Neal: "I feel very fortunate to be with TNT and to have the best job in sports. I look forward to many more years with Charles (Barkley), Kenny (Smith) and E.J. (Ernie Johnson)" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 5/25). ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan said O’Neal was “tempted and interested and curious about it," but when it "all came down to it, he really likes what he’s doing." MacMullan: "He loves TNT ... and he’s very happy in that role.” SB Nation’s Bomani Jones said O’Neal as a GM “would be highly entertaining, but I’ve seen nothing to lead me to believe that’s the guy you want to be the general manager of your franchise” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 5/24). ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said O'Neal "knows who he is, and I don’t know that Shaq wants to do the mundane, minute-to-minute work that an NBA executive has to do" ("PTI," ESPN, 5/24). In Orlando, Brian Schmitz wrote, "Shaq might like the IDEA of running a team, but it’s work. It’s a real job." A GM job in the NBA includes "making a thousand phone calls, knowing the salary-cap inside and out, making trades, relating to players, etc." It can be "a thankless role where being in the limelight ranks on the bottom of your list." Schmitz: "You can’t suddenly become a GM on training wheels, no matter how big a star you might have been" (ORLANDOSENTINEL.com, 5/24). Meanwhile, ESPN’s Magic Johnson said O’Neal “wants to be an owner.” Johnson: “Shaq has got a big personality. He feels he has to get paid for that big personality, for those championship rings. He definitely won’t be a general manager" ("Kia NBA Countdown," ESPN, 5/24).

NOT SO DIESEL
: SPORTING NEWS' David Whitley wrote, "On the surface, the idea was so farfetched it appeared to be a publicity stunt." The job "requires maturity and professional detachment." Whitley: "Successful GMs are consensus builders who work tirelessly behind the scenes. They have to resolve disputes, not instigate them." Whitley wrote, "You have to be the smartest guy in the room, not just the tallest." Still, if "properly motivated, Shaq is capable of grunt work." There is a "big difference, however, in riding along with cops and running the entire department." Whitley: "If Shaq is as smart as he thinks he is, he would have gone into his Magic interview and admitted he didn't know it all" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 5/24).

EXIT STRATEGY: In Jacksonville, Gene Frenette wrote the Magic's decision to part ways with GM Otis Smith had less to do with "failed transactions and more to do with the Magic acquiescing to a star player’s every whim, which goes against everything Smith ever stood for." Smith has "spent his whole career being a team player, only to be cast aside because the Magic was too gutless to stand up to a me-first player." Smith's decision not to speak to the media after the team announced he would not return next season "speaks volumes about the despicable manner in which his exit was handled" (JACKSONVILLE.com, 5/24)
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