The summer of 2018 continues to be one of transition for the Orlando Magic. After all, what choice did they really have after finishing last season with the league’s fifth worst win total?
As NBA basketball continues to evolve into a year-round spectacle, the Magic brass has shown their abilities to work around the clock to achieve their goal of turning the franchise around. Just hours removed from their regular season finale in mid-April, the team parted ways with now former head coach, Frank Vogel. In the midst of a rather peculiar 48-day coaching search filled with widespread rumors, the Magic earned the sixth overall selection for the second time in as many years at the NBA Lottery in mid-May.
The coaching search ended in late May with the hiring of former Magic assistant coach, Steve Clifford.
Clifford’s work began immediately, as the latest prospects gathered in Chicago for the NBA Draft Combine in early June. The Magic also conducted numerous private pre-draft workouts in their own facilities in the days leading up to the draft on June 21.
At the draft, the Magic selected University of Texas big man, Mohamed “Mo” Bamba. Immediate questions arose as Bamba, who also sported the longest wing span ever recorded at the NBA Combine (7’10’’), seemed to mirror last year’s selection in the same spot, Jonathan Isaac. If you recall, Isaac only appeared in 27 games last season, and when doing so, showed that he had a lot of developing to do. Free agency began July t, and with the Magic not expected to be major players due to cap issues, protecting their own assets became top priority. The Magic re-signed restricted free agent, Aaron Gordon, to a new four-year, $84 million contract that will put him alongside the “Thin Towers” (Isaac & Bamba) for years to come.
Hitting the Jackpot
In early July, NBA Summer League took place in Las Vegas. This, too, was new to the Magic, who after serving as a Summer League host for the past 16 seasons, joined the rest of the NBA’s 29 teams in the first Summer League to ever include the entire league. What happened in Vegas didn’t exactly stay there either. Every Summer League game was broadcast on television and was available for streaming on various websites. Yet another change in corporate strategy for the NBA that paid dividends.
For the Magic, Isaac and Bamba appear they may pay dividends as well, becoming must-see TV in just their first few minutes on the floor together. Flashing larger-than-life smiles from their longer-than-life frames, the young, athletic duo became media darlings throughout their stay in Sin City.
If you excuse the couple of cameo appearances by Aaron Gordon in the NBA Dunk Contests of recent years, the Orlando Magic have not had a single player garnish any national media attention since the days of Dwight Howard. Let alone, two.
The Orlando Magic announced a new local radio partnership on Monday, ending a 27-year relationship with ESPN 580 Orlando. The team announced that FM 96.9 The Game, will now broadcast all preseason, regular season and post season games. Play-by-play duties will remain with Dennis Neumann and color-analyst, Richie Adubato. They will be joined by the newest member of the radio broadcast team, 96.9 The Game’s own, Brandon Kravitz. Kravitz will serve as host for all pregame, halftime and postgame shows, as well as sideline reporter for all home games. “Magic Drive Time,” hosted by Dante Marchitelli, will air Monday through Friday from 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. throughout the season. FM 96.9 The Game is also available at 740AM.
Orlando native and former Edgewater High School standout, Anfernee Simons, was selected 24th overall by the Portland Trailblazers at the NBA Draft. The 19-year-old helped the Blazers become NBA Summer League Champions averaging 11 points in 20 minutes per game. Simons shot 43 percent from the field, showing both tremendous NBA range and the ability to finish at the rim.