Meeting with the media in advance of tonight’s NBA Draft, Orlando Magic general manager Rob Hennigan was his usual tight lipped self. The questions came rapidly, one after another, ringing through the air like church bells on Sunday, but to each one, Hennigan calmly answered. While he didn’t let out a lot of information, he did have some very important things to say regarding some hot topics surrounding the team.
Seemingly right off the bat, Hennigan was hit with the question of whether or not his team would be selecting at just four and 12, to which he said this to say, “Tough to say.” Hennigan went on to say that “everything’s really fluid at the moment.” He also had this to say, “I think there’s a possibility we select at four and 12; I also think it’s a possibility that some or both of those picks could be in play. So, our job over the next however many hours leading up to the draft is to prioritize what we feel is the best opportunity for us, and then go ahead and try to capitalize on that.”
Rumors have been swirling that the Magic could be working on a deal to move one, or both of those selections. They could possibly make a big splash with the Cleveland Cavaliers and make a trade for the top overall pick.
On the topic of Joel Embiid’s injury and Dario Saric inking a new deal overseas and how much that impacts what the team was already planning to do, the budding star general manager said this: “I think it makes an unpredictable night even more unpredictable, is how I would categorize it.”
When asked how his team might react with the possibility of fans becoming more restless with the team due to the extended rebuilding, even with them adding more pieces to the puzzle, Hennigan gave us these thoughts:
“Yeah. I think the big thing for us is to stay the course, add to the team, continue to improve the team, and do it in a fashion that allows us to show improvement, allows us to play in more meaningful games next season; but at the same time we don’t want to skip steps. We don’t want to compromise our vision, which is to build a competitive team for a long time. So, if there’s an opportunity that’s out there that will allow us to speed that up, great! If not the onus is on us to continue to chip away and stay disciplined.”
Through all the seriousness, Hennigan was able to have some fun with one reporter. The Orlando Sentinels Mike Bianchi asked Hennigan “What his philosophy was on injured big men?” To which Hennigan quipped “Depends,” with a sly smile on his face. Someone else continued on by asking “On what?” Hennigan gave them this answer, “Depends on a lot of factors!” as other reporters chuckled and Hennigan continued to give off that sly smile.
Answering the question seriously, Hennigan said, “Depends on a lot of factors. We treat every every case and every circumstance different. So, it’s going to be all relative to the multitude of factors that are in play.” Continuing, he was asked if the team had received Joel Embiid’s medical information, to which Hennigan said “You know, I’m not going to comment on what information we have, but I will say that we have information and that we’re going to analyze it and continue to gather more information before tomorrow night.”
Following his remarks about Embiid and his health, Ken Hornack of FoxSports Florida asked Hennigan if the team was looking for two players who could contribute right away, or possibly one who could come over in a few years. This is what Hennigan had to say, “Yeah. I think it’s relative to who’s on the board when we’re picking. So, we’re not going to confine ourselves to ‘we need someone who can contribute right away’ or someone who may be more of a long-term play. It’s going to be a decision which is relative to what’s available; so we’re open to both.”
Orlando Sentinel scribe Josh Robbins later asked Hennigan if he felt as though they had seen enough of Australian Dante Exum to potentially draft him. Hennigan gave his shortest and simplest answer of the day: “Yes.”
The former San Antonio and Oklahoma City front office man did admit that his team has been having a lot of conversations about moving their pick, but guessed most team’s have had many discussions as well. David Steele, the Magic’s play-by-play man for FoxSports Florida, asked how Hennigan felt about the lead up to this draft chatter wise, to which he replied, “I’d say about the same, yeah, about the same.”
Robbins also asked Hennigan about his feelings on the draft regarding the hype as one of the most talent rich draft’s since 2003, the year LeBron James came into the league. This is what he had to say, “To be determined. Ask me that in three-to-four years, I’ll have a much better answer for ya. I think every draft is relative, and I think I question to ask is… We don’t know, we don’t know exactly what this draft will become, and the question is ‘When will we know?‘ And I don’t have an answer for that.”
While Hennigan wouldn’t give any specifics, he did say the team would have about 12 people who have input tomorrow night, including head coach Jacque Vaughn. “A lot, a lot of input, yeah. Jacque and I are very much aligned in what our goals are, what our vision is and what our objectives are, so he prolly has more say than I do.”
Hennigan was also asked “how difficult is it to trade up?” to which he replied, “It’s difficult, yeah, I think it is difficult. It’s challenging. But, I think it depends on where you’re trying to move. You know, are you trying to move up A LOT? A little? What are the pieces you may be able to utilize to do that? So, again, it is a little bit case-by-case, depending on what different team’s are looking for and what they need and what they want.”
Arguably his biggest quote of the nearly 17 minutes press conference followed. When asked if the team would consider trading down, Hennigan said “Sure, we’re open to anything. I think we have to be. We have to be opportunistic, and we have to be willing to be flexible and creative and aggressive if need be.”
Looking forward a little bit, Orlando Pinstriped Post managing editor Evan Dunlap asked how much of an effect what happens during the draft will effect what happens in July with some of the non-guaranteed deals and some qualifying offers. Hennigan gave us this response, “I think a big role. You know, I think everything is connected. So, you know, the way we try to make decisions one should lead to the next, to the next, to the next, and it’s sort of on a domino type of system. So you know, it’ll impact things for sure depending on how it shakes out and what we have on the roster at the conclusion of the draft.” Hennigan also said they have yet to make decisions about those players.
While he didn’t release much information, Hennigan did have some very interesting things to say. In a nutshell, this draft is very important for his organization and their ability to take the next step in their rebuilding phase. Now, it’s time to wait and see what kind of Magic Hennigan can pull off this year.
You can watch Hennigan’s entire press conference here.