Magic promote Otis Smith to general manager

Updated: May 3, 2006, 2:49 PM ET
Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Orlando Magic promoted assistant general manager Otis Smith to GM on Wednesday.

Smith split basketball operations work the past year with assistant general manager Dave Twardzik after John Weisbrod resigned as general manager 14 months into the job. Twardzik will retain the same title but focus on player development and scouting.

Smith, who played for the Magic from 1989-92, called the promotion an opportunity to stretch into a position he's had his eye on for a decade.

"I don't know if I could hand pick any other situation," he said.

Magic President Bob Vander Weide credited Smith with helping engineer two midseason moves that unloaded mercurial guard Steve Francis and reserve center Kelvin Cato and brought in post prospect Darko Milicic, guard Carlos Arroyo and more salary cap room.

"That's a GM that understands my business side -- that we've got to win on the court but we also have a business to operate," Vander Weide said.

The Magic, who missed the playoffs for the third straight year, won 16 of their last 20 games with a retooled lineup.

Smith's fingerprints were also heavy on the Magic's 2004 draft, when the club took Dwight Howard No. 1 overall out of high school and traded with Denver to snag 20th pick Jameer Nelson, a sharpshooter and consensus college player of the year many clubs overlooked because of his 6-foot height.

The two have flourished in combination, with Howard averaging 15 points and 12 rebounds last season and Nelson taking over the starting point guard job.

"I'm very much of the opinion [that Smith has] earned this opportunity," Vander Weide said. "He's been with us in several capacities, and he has taken the time to learn the business and learn it well."

There have also been questionable moves on Smith's watch, like picking Fran Vazquez 11th in the 2005 draft only to see the 6-foot-10 power forward from Spain snub the Magic and play in Europe.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press