Hill out as coach of the Magic
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Brian Hill is out as the Orlando Magic's coach after two consecutive losing seasons and a first-round sweep in this year's playoffs.
It was unclear whether Hill was fired or resigned Wednesday, with the team releasing a statement at night stating he would not return as coach. The team said Hill would have the option to return to the organization in another capacity.
Brian Hill was fired after his second stint with the Orlando Magic. The first time was the best. Here are his numbers:
"Brian's contributions to the Orlando Magic have been tremendous," president Bob Vander Weide said in the statement. "We appreciate everything Brian did for us as a head coach in taking us to this point, and hope he decides to stay with the organization."
In two stints with the Magic, Hill became the winningest coach in team history. He took Orlando to its first playoff appearance in four years this season.
"We will miss Brian's disciplined approach, game preparation and attention to detail, and passion he displayed as our head coach," general manager Otis Smith said in the statement. "We look forward to taking the next step toward being a championship-caliber team."
The Orlando Sentinel reported on its Web site Friday that former Seattle Supersonics coach Bob Hill had e-mailed Vander Weide to express his interest in the team's coaching vacancy.
The newspaper reported that Bob Hill, who isn't related to Brian Hill, is close with SuperSonics forward Rashard Lewis and might be able to woo the impending free agent to Orlando.
Bob Hill was an assistant on Brian Hill's staff in the 1993-94 season. Bob Hill has been a head coach of the New York Knicks, Indiana Pacers, San Antonio Spurs and, most recently, the SuperSonics. He was fired by the Sonics in April.
The Magic, which will have about $10-13 million available in cap room this summer, are looking for a scorer this offseason, the Sentinel reports.
The Magic finished 40-42 this season before being eliminated in four games by the Detroit Pistons in the playoffs.
"This wasn't an easy decision by any stretch of the imagination," Smith said Thursday. "It was something that kept me up nights trying to figure out, 'Is this the right thing to do at this time for this young basketball team?'"
The one thing Smith knows for sure? He's got a tall order for Brian Hill's replacement.
"I believe we have one of the best sports franchises in the country, so I think we should expect our team to win a championship," Smith said. "Short-term expectations of the next guy is to win a championship."
Brian Hill, 59, had a year left on his contract, along with a team option for another.
Some fans have been upset Hill didn't give rookie J.J. Redick and 7-footer Darko Milicic more prominent roles. Hill has also been criticized for not helping All-Star Dwight Howard develop a better offensive game since the former No. 1 overall pick was drafted out of high school in 2004.
Brian Hill led the club in the 1990s to its greatest heights -- the NBA Finals in 1995 and Eastern Conference championship a year later. The Magic won consecutive Atlantic Division titles those years and in '96 lost to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, the eventual champs.
Orlando was one of the league's best franchises under Hill and All-Stars Shaquille O'Neal and Penny Hardaway. But the Magic dumped Hill with 33 games left in the 1996-97 season, a locker room coup led by the now-long-gone Hardaway.
Orlando has still not gotten past the first round of the playoffs since Hill left in 1997.
The Magic settled on Brian Hill's return in May 2005, reintroducing him at a news conference with the "Welcome Back, Kotter" theme music. But the arrangement didn't last long.
Orlando made it back to the playoffs this season, but Vander Weide was unimpressed with their showing. Few expected the series to be competitive, and it wasn't. Orlando lost each game by an average of nine points.
Brian Hill coached the Memphis Grizzlies after his first stint with Orlando, but never found the same success there. He inherited a team that won just 14 games and went a combined 31-123 from 1997-2000, getting fired 22 games into the 1999-2000 season.
Hill is 298-315 overall as an NBA head coach and was 267-192 with Orlando. He was an assistant coach with the New Jersey Nets and New Orleans Hornets between head coaching jobs with Orlando and Memphis.
Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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