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Orlando Magic hire Igor Kokoskov as assistant coach

The Orlando Magic have named Igor Kokoskov (kuh-KOS-kov) assistant coach, General Manager Rob Hennigan announced today.

Kokoskov, 43, has spent 14 seasons as an assistant coach in the NBA, most recently with the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2013-14 campaign. During his tenure on an NBA bench, Kokoskov’s teams have made six conference finals appearances, two NBA Finals trips and captured one NBA World Championship.

Prior to joining the Cavaliers, Kokoskov spent five seasons with the Phoenix Suns from 2008-13. He also spent five seasons with the Detroit Pistons from 2003-08, reaching the conference finals in each campaign and earning the 2004 NBA title.

In 2000, Kokoskov became the first full-time, non-American assistant coach in NBA history, when he was named to Alvin Gentry’s staff with the Los Angeles Clippers. He spent three seasons with the Clippers from 2000-03. Kokoskov later became the first non-American assistant to win an NBA championship and also the first to serve on an NBA All-Star Game coaching staff. Kokoskov also owns the distinction of being the first European coach to hold a full-time position with an NCAA Division I-A school, when he served as an assistant at the University of Missouri during the 1999-00 season under Quin Snyder, now head coach of the Utah Jazz.

A native of Belgrade, Serbia, Kokoskov owns extensive international experience as a head coach and assistant coach. He was an assistant with the Serbian national team at the 2004 Athens Olympics under renowned European coach Zeljko Obradovic. Kokoskov has enjoyed seven successful summers (2008-14) as the national team head coach for the Republic of Georgia. His team has twice qualified for the European Championships during his tenure, something the nation had never done previously. In 2012, his work with the national team earned him the Order of Honour, Georgia’s highest civilian honor.

Prior to his move to the United States, Kokoskov instructed the former Yugoslavia’s top amateur and professional players for eight years, including a stint as an assistant coach for the nation’s junior national team. He has participated in the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders program and administered other clinics throughout Africa and Europe.

Here’s the Orlando Sentinel reporting on Magic guard Victor Oladipo, who shot just 8-of-21 for 22 points in a losing effort on All-Star Friday:

Victor Oladipo scores 22 in Rising Stars loss

The last thing Victor Oladipo expected when he elevated for a layup just four minutes into the Rising Stars Challenge exhibition Friday night was for an opposing player to challenge the shot and commit a hard foul.

But Rudy Gobert jumped for a block attempt, and Gobert’s right arm hit Oladipo so hard that Oladipo lost his balance in midair and — in a split second that had to frighten the Orlando Magic executives inside Barclays Center — fell directly onto his rear end.

“Crazy!” Oladipo exclaimed after Gobert and Giannis Antetokounmpo lifted him off the court.

Oladipo wasn’t hurt, but the moment still jarred him. It jolted him so much that he went on to score 22 points as his U.S. team lost to the World squad 121-112.

Orlando Magic fire coach Jacque Vaughn

Orlando Magic fire coach Jacque Vaughn

Orlando Magic fire coach Jacque Vaughn

The Orlando Magic have relieved Jacque Vaughn from his head coaching duties, General Manager Rob Hennigan announced today. In addition, James Borrego has been named interim head coach.

“Jacque (Vaughn) has been a trusted friend and colleague,” said Hennigan. “We thank him immensely for his contributions and sacrifices in bringing our team to this point, and we greatly appreciate his unwavering commitment to our organization. We have tremendous respect for Jacque and certainly wish him the best as he embarks on the next phase of his career.”

Vaughn was named head coach on July 27, 2012. He became the tenth head coach in franchise history and was the second youngest coach in the NBA at the time of his hiring. During his two-plus seasons in Orlando, Vaughn compiled a record of 58-158 (.269 win pct.), including 15-37 this season.

Prior to joining the Magic, Vaughn spent two seasons (2010-12) as an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs. During his two seasons on San Antonio’s staff, the Spurs compiled a regular season record of 111-37. He was also a member of the 2006-07 Spurs’ NBA Championship team as a player.

Borrego is in his third season with the Magic. He spent the previous two seasons as an assistant coach with New Orleans. Prior to joining New Orleans, Borrego spent seven seasons with the San Antonio Spurs from 2003-10. He started as an assistant video coordinator in the summer of 2003 and finished his tenure as an assistant coach. During those seasons, Borrego was a part of two NBA Championships teams in 2005 and 2007.

During the summer of 2013, Borrego served as head coach for the Magic’s summer league team. He also coached the New Orleans summer league team in 2012. Borrego has participated in the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders program in both Tokyo, Japan and Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Borrego began his coaching career at the University of San Diego, where he was an assistant coach for two seasons from 2001-03. During the 2002-03 campaign, San Diego captured the West Coast Conference Championship and earned a trip to the NCAA Tournament.

Borrego played three seasons at the University of San Diego, and during his senior season (2000-01) he was named to the West Coast Conference All-Academic Team. He earned a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in leadership studies.

Born and raised in Albuquerque, N.M., Borrego led Albuquerque Academy to a pair of state championships. He and his wife, Megan, have a daughter and two sons.

Magic may be close to firing Jacque Vaughn

The 15-34 Orlando Magic have the fifth worst winning percentage in the NBA so far this season, and have lost seven games in a row. Head coach Jacque Vaughn’s job may be in jeopardy. Yahoo Sports reports:

Magic may soon part ways with coach Jacque Vaughn

The Orlando Magic are close to firing coach Jacque Vaughn and a change could come soon, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

As embarrassing losses accumulate, Vaughn is rapidly running out of time to show the progress needed to make it through the next several days – never mind the fourth and final year of his contract in 2015-’16, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

“It isn’t a matter of ‘if,’ anymore, but ‘when,’” a source close to the decision-making process told Yahoo Sports about Vaughn’s fading job security.

Orlando Magic notes: Jan. 20, 2015

Orlando Magic Team Notes

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Faster pace of play proving effective for the Magic: Orlando recorded a 121-114 victory on January 12 at Chicago before returning to Amway Center on January 14 where the Magic defeated the Rockets, 120-113. This marked the first time since February 13-16, 1996 that Orlando has scored 120+ points in consecutive outings. During the last four games (January 12-present), the Orlando Magic are averaging 109.0 points per game (436 points).

Payton makes Magic history again: Magic rookie guard Elfrid Payton registered a career-high 22 points and 12 assists against the Memphis Grizzlies on January 16. With this performance, Payton became the youngest player in Orlando Magic history to record at least 20 points and 10 assists in a game.

Vučević and Oladipo both record a pair of 30-point games: Magic center Nikola Vučević posted a career-high 34 points against Portland on January 10 and followed that up with a 33-point effort in Chicago on January 12. Magic guard Victory Oladipo also poured in 33 points in Chicago before scoring 32 against the Houston Rockets on January 14. This marked the first time that each player has scored 30 or more points in back-to-back games in their respective careers.

Magic among the NBA’s best in takeaways: The Orlando Magic recorded a season-high 14 steals in their win over the Houston Rockets on January 14. The Magic have notched at least five steals in 38 games this season, which is tied for the third most in the NBA.

Frye has found his touch from 3-point range: Magic forward Channing Frye connected on five 3-pointers against the Rockets on January 14 and four 3-pointers against the Grizzlies on January 16. This was the 12th time in his career that Frye made four or more 3-pointers in back-to-back contests and it marked the second time he has accomplished the feat in a Magic uniform. Frye is shooting 39.3 percent (81-of-219) from long range during the 2014-15 campaign.

Aaron Gordon set to return for Magic

Here’s the Orlando Sentinel reporting on Magic rookie forward Aaron Gordon, who is ready to return to action whenever the team decides to use him:

Aaron Gordon set to return for Magic

Gordon has been cleared for all basketball activities, including playing in games, but he remained on the inactive list for the Orlando Magic’s game Friday night against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Magic coach Jacque Vaughn noted that Gordon hasn’t played any five-on-five yet, and he wants to ensure Gordon is fully prepared to play when he does eventually return to action.

“He’s played some one-on-one, a little bit of two-on-two, shooting, individual workouts but no other nine guys on the floor at the same time with him,” Vaughn said.

Here’s the Orlando Sentinel reporting some relatively good news about a key member of the Magic:

Channing Frye elbow injury is not a fracture

In the midst of a three-game losing streak, the Orlando Magic needed some good news.

That welcome news arrived when X-rays of Channing Frye’s injured right elbow were examined.

The X-rays revealed no fractures, a team official said Sunday. Frye’s availability to practice and play in games will be determined on a day-to-day basis.

Frye, a 31-year-old power forward, sat out the entire second half of the Magic’s 98-90 loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday night because of the injury, which was labeled as a strain.

Here’s the Orlando Sentinel reporting on some Magic-related hard work:

Hard work from Dewayne Dedmon paying off

Dewayne Dedmon has plenty to be thankful for when he looks over the last year.

On Jan. 1, 2014, he was a member of the NBA Development League’s Santa Cruz Warriors, hoping an NBA team would just give him a chance.

On Thursday, exactly one year later, Dedmon spent New Year’s Day in a far different situation: as a member of the Orlando Magic. Not only is he on an NBA roster, but lately he’s carved out consistent minutes in the Magic’s playing rotation.

“It’s definitely gratifying,” Dedmon said. “It definitely shows that in 2014 I really put in a lot of work and hard work does actually pay off. It means a lot. If you look back at what 2014 had in store for me and to be where I am right now, it’s definitely gratifying.”

Orlando Magic weekly notes

This week, the Orlando Magic will play a pair of back-to-backs sets this week, beginning tonight, December 29, in Miami where they will take on the Heat (7:30 p.m. EST). The team will return to Orlando for three consecutive contests at Amway Center as they host the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday, December 30 (7 p.m. EST). The Magic will start the New Year with back-to-back home games against the Brooklyn Nets on Friday, January 2 (7 p.m. EST), and the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday, January 3 (7 p.m. EST).

Orlando showing improvement on the road: With their victory over the Charlotte Hornets on December 27, the Magic secured their eighth win away from Amway Center this season. Orlando has won twice as many games on the road in 2014-15 than they did during the 2013-14 season.

Magic start strong on the defensive end against Boston: On December 23, the Orlando Magic held the Celtics to only nine points during the first quarter, which is tied for the second-fewest in any first quarter in franchise history. The fewest points ever allowed during a first quarter is eight, set back on Nov. 23, 1994 vs. Houston and again on Apr. 22, 1999 vs. Miami.

Orlando’s marksmen among the best in the NBA: The Orlando Magic are shooting .377 (232-615 3FG) from three-point range in 2014-15, which ranks fourth in the NBA as of December 28.

Harris providing a consistent source of offense for the Magic in 2014-15: Magic forward Tobias Harris has scored in double figures in all 31 games that he has played this season (Oct. 28-present). This marks the longest streak of scoring 10+ points in his career. When Harris scores at least 20 points, the Magic are 7-5.

Vucevic gets his teammates involved: Magic center Nikola Vučević registered a career-high seven assists against the Cleveland Cavaliers on December 26 to go along with his 12 points and eight rebounds. Vučević’s seven assists ties him for the second-most in a single game by a center in franchise history.

O’Quinn turns in stellar performance against the Celtics: Magic forward Kyle O’Quinn registered 18 points and 13 rebounds on 6-of-12 shooting in Orlando’s win over the Boston Celtics on December 23. O’Quinn’s 18 points are the fourth-most he has scored in a game, while his 13 rebounds are tied for the third-most he has grabbed in a game in his career.

– Orlando Magic notes

Victor Oladipo ditches protective mask

Here’s the Orlando Sentinel reporting some happy news for Magic guard Victor Oladipo:

Victor Oladipo ditches protective mask

The best Christmas present Victor Oladipo received this year came from a doctor.

A physician gave the Orlando Magic guard permission to jettison the clear, protective mask that he had been wearing to protect the surgically repaired bones on the right side of his face.

Oladipo played without the mask during the Magic’s 98-89 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night.

“I don’t have to wear it anymore,” Oladipo said. “That was my Christmas gift. So Merry Christmas.”

Magic assign Devyn Marble to D-League

Orlando Magic guard Devyn Marble has been assigned to the Erie BayHawks of the NBA Development League, General Manager Rob Hennigan announced today.

Marble (6’6”, 200, 9/21/92) has appeared in five games during his rookie season with Orlando, averaging 0.8 ppg. in 1.0 minpg. Originally selected in the second round (56th overall) by Denver, his draft rights, along with Evan Fournier, were acquired by Orlando in exchange for Arron Afflalo on June 26.

Marble played in 136 career games during four years at the University of Iowa, averaging 12.5 ppg., 3.4 rpg., 2.9 apg. and 1.29 stlpg. in 27.6 minpg. He ranks second on the school’s all-time games played list with 136. Marble also ranks in Hawkeyes’ history in scoring (fifth, 1,694 points), assists (sixth, 397) and steals (seventh, 176).

Orlando Magic forward Kyle O’Quinn has been fined $15,000 for making excessive contact above the shoulders with Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin, it was announced today by Rod Thorn, President, Basketball Operations.

The foul on O’Quinn, for which he was assessed a Flagrant 2 and ejected, occurred with 5:54 remaining in the second quarter of the Clippers’ 114-86 win over the Magic on Dec. 3, at Staples Center.

Here’s the Orlando Sentinel reporting on talented young Magic guard Victor Oladipo, who is still on the rise as he develops, and as his team learns how best to utilize him:

Young Magic guard Victor Oladipo still improving

During Tuesday night’s 98-97 heartbreaking loss to the same Warriors who decimated the Magic a week earlier, Oladipo markedly improved his decision-making. In one of the most efficient performances of his brief pro career, Oladipo sank 10 of his 14 shot attempts and scored 27 points.

“He’ll continue to work on his game and continue to play with these guys,” coach Jacque Vaughn said. “He’ll continue to learn how to play with that mask on, and things will become more comfortable with him.”

Oladipo has struggled at times to adapt to the point guard spot since the Magic selected him second overall in the 2013 NBA Draft. A natural shooting guard, he had never played the point before, and his first regular season felt like on-the-job training.

Aaron Gordon out indefinitely after foot surgery

Aaron Gordon out indefinitely after foot surgery

Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon underwent a successful surgical procedure today to repair a fractured fifth metatarsal in his left foot, General Manager Rob Hennigan announced.

Gordon was diagnosed with the injury following the Magic’s game on Nov. 15 at Washington. He will be out indefinitely and his return will depend on how he responds to rehabilitation.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Gordon “will be re-evaluated in 6-8 weeks.”

Originally selected by Orlando in the first round (fourth overall) of the 2014 NBA Draft, Gordon (6’9”, 220, 9/16/95) has played in 11 games this season, averaging 5.8 ppg. and 3.0 rpg. in 15.0 minpg.

Here’s the Orlando Sentinel reporting on the Magic:

The Orlando Magic have reached a deal to buy one of the oldest homeless shelters in Orlando to make way for the team’s planned $200 million entertainment complex.

The Magic will pay the Orlando Union Rescue Mission $3 million for the property on Central Boulevard where its men’s shelter is located. The faith-based charity plans to use the Magic’s money — plus another $1.5 million it is now raising — to build a new, bigger shelter about two miles west.

“This works for us very well,” Mission CEO Allen Harden said Wednesday. “It’s a great location, a great piece of property. It expands our ability to reach other demographics and it’s close enough that our people downtown will be able to utilize it. We hope to be in the new building by the end of next year.”

The Orlando Magic already owns the rest of the block, after closing Tuesday on the purchase of two adjacent city-owned buildings: Orlando Police Headquarters, which is being relocated, and a parking garage. The property sits across Church Street from the Amway Center.

Magic exercise contract options on Victor Oladipo, Maurice Harkless, Evan Fournier and Andrew Nicholson

Magic exercise contract options on Victor Oladipo, Maurice Harkless, Evan Fournier and Andrew Nicholson

Orlando Magic general manager Rob Hennigan announced today that the team has exercised their their third-year team option on the contract of Victor Oladipo, and fourth-year options on the contracts of Maurice Harkless, Evan Fournier and Andrew Nicholson.

All four of these players are now under contract with the Magic through the 2015-16 season.

Oladipo (6’4”, 210, 5/4/92) is considered a key building block; an essential piece in the future of the Magic, though it remains to be seen if he will live up to that very lofty expectation. He played in 80 games (44 starts) during his rookie campaign last season with Orlando, averaging 13.8 ppg., 4.1 rpg., 4.1 apg. and a team-high 1.61 stlpg. in 31.1 minpg. He was tied for 15th in the NBA in steals. Oladipo also ranked among all NBA rookies in scoring (2nd), rebounding (T-8th), assists (3rd), FG percentage (.419, 8th), three-point FG percentage (.327, T-7th), FT percentage (.780, 6th), steals (2nd) and minutes played (3rd).

Originally selected in the first round (second overall) of the 2013 NBA Draft by Orlando, Oladipo was named to the 2013-14 NBA All-Rookie First Team. He was also named the NBA’s Rookie of the Month twice (December 2013, February 2014). He has talent but needs to improve his shooting.

Harkless (6’9”, 215, 5/11/93) played in 80 games (41 starts) last season with Orlando, averaging 7.4 ppg., 3.3 rpg., 1.0 apg. and 1.21 stlpg. in 24.4 minpg., while shooting .383 (59-154) from three-point range. He ranked sixth in the NBA in steals-to-turnover ratio (1.13, 97/86).

Originally selected in the first round (15th overall) of the 2012 NBA Draft by Philadelphia, Harkless was acquired by Orlando as part of a four-team, 12-player trade on Aug. 10, 2012. He has appeared in 156 career NBA regular season games, all with the Magic, averaging 7.8 ppg., 3.8 rpg. and 1.19 stlpg. in 25.2 minpg.

Fournier (6’7”, 205, 10/29/92) played in 76 games last season with Denver, averaging 8.4 ppg., 2.7 rpg. and 1.5 apg. in 19.8 minpg., while shooting .376 (89-237) from three-point range. He was acquired from the Nuggets, along with the draft rights to Devyn Marble, in exchange for Arron Afflalo on June 26, 2014.

Originally selected by Denver in the first round (20th overall) of the 2012 NBA Draft, Fournier has appeared in 114 career NBA regular season games, all with the Nuggets, averaging 7.4 ppg., 2.1 rpg. and 1.4 apg. in 16.9 minpg., while shooting .381 (111-291) from three-point range. He also played in four career playoff outings, averaging 4.8 ppg. and 1.0 apg. in 13.3 minpg.

Nicholson (6’9”, 250, 12/8/89) played in 76 games (five starts) last season with Orlando, averaging 5.7 ppg. and 3.4 rpg. in 15.7 minpg. Originally selected in the first round (19th overall) of the 2012 NBA Draft by Orlando, Nicholson has appeared in 151 career NBA regular season games, all with the Magic, averaging 6.8 ppg. and 3.4 rpg. in 16.0 minpg.

For now, Harkless, Fournier and Nicholson are are considered bench depth. It remains to be seen how much better they can get.

The Magic are rebuilding, and although they are still not expected to be competitive, the team did improve this summer, adding talented rookies Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton, and versatile veteran big man Channing Frye, among others. At the least, Orlando should be far more fun and interesting to watch this season than they were in 2013-14.

The Orlando Magic have waived Kadeem Batts, Drew Crawford, Seth Curry and Peyton Siva, General Manager Rob Hennigan announced today. Orlando’s roster now stands at 15 players (attached below).

Orlando begins the 2014-15 regular season at New Orleans on Tuesday, October 28. Orlando’s regular season home opener will be on Thursday, October 30 against Washington (7 p.m.).

Victor Oladipo out with facial fracture

victor oladipo

Second-year Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo will be out of action indefinitely due to a facial fracture suffered in practice Thursday, according to General Manager Rob Hennigan.

After being evaluated Thursday afternoon, Oladipo will undergo a corrective surgical procedure this Saturday (tomorrow). The injury occurred after taking an inadvertent elbow during a practice drill.

Oladipo (6’4”, 210, 5/4/92) has not played during the preseason due to a sprained MCL in his left knee. Last season (2013-14), he played in 80 games (44 starts) during his rookie campaign with Orlando, averaging 13.8 ppg., 4.1 rpg., 4.1 apg. and a team-high 1.61 stlpg. in 31.1 minpg. He was tied for 15th in the NBA in steals. Oladipo also ranked among all NBA rookies in scoring (2nd), rebounding (T-8th), assists (3rd), FG percentage (.419, 8th), three-point FG percentage (.327, T-7th), FT percentage (.780, 6th), steals (2nd) and minutes played (3rd).

The Orlando Magic have signed free agents Kadeem Batts, Drew Crawford, Seth Curry and Peyton Siva, General Manager Rob Hennigan announced today.

These are likely all non-guaranteed deals that bring the players to Magic training camp.

Orlando’s roster now stands at 19 players. NBA regular season rosters have a maximum of 15 players.

Training camp for the Magic begins on Tuesday, September 30.

Here’s Reuters, via the Toronto Sun, reporting that Dwight Howard, or whoever drives his car, makes questionable decisions on the road:

dwight howard

The Florida driver’s licence of Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard has been suspended for his failure to pay a fine for running a red light, court records show, but the team said on Tuesday he was playing basketball in Texas the day of the alleged infraction.

According to the court records, Howard’s licence had been suspended since at least Aug. 15 for his nonpayment of a $285 fine for running a red light in Winter Park, Fla., on April 14.

“It couldn’t have possibly been him,” said Houston Rockets spokeswoman Tracey Hughes, who told Reuters that Howard and the Rockets were playing the San Antonio Spurs in Houston on that date. “Dwight played 31 minutes. He scored 20 points and 17 rebounds.”

UPDATE: According to TMZ Sports, “Dwight Howard might be color blind — ’cause officials in Florida say he ran 10 RED LIGHTS in 2-and-a-half years — and now his license has been suspended.”

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