ORLANDO, Fla. - The Orlando Magic introduced their new head coach, Jacque
Vaughn, on Monday. He replaces Stan Van Gundy, who took the team to the playoffs six years in a row.
Vaughn, who has never been a head coach before, spent 12 years in the NBA as a player and the last two as an assistant
The Magic insist they are not taking a risk by hiring the 37-year-old, even though he's heading into a situation where the shadow of Dwight Howard's future still hangs over this team.
Van Gundy was fired two months ago.
On Monday, Vaughn quoted the poet Maya Angelou in his news conference and talked about sacrifice.
"I believe that's the way to do things. You sacrifice yourself for the betterment of a group, of a team," said Vaughn.
Vaughn is the first rookie head coach the magic have hired since taking a risk on Doc Rivers back in 1999.
Vaughn said he knew he wanted to be a head coach when his knees and ankles started hurting as a player.
He spent the last two seasons learning the job as a San Antonio Spurs assistant, but admitted he is thin on experience and said the Magic are taking a leap of faith.
“I'll be able to relate to personal, physical, mental stresses they come across every day because I’ve been there. And I think they'll relate to that and they'll appreciate that,” said Vaughn.
"I think he clearly is prepared for this opportunity. So I don't think we've taken a risk or stuck our neck out at all. He's the right coach for this team at this point in our history," said Magic CEO Alex Martins.
But Vaughn, who played one season for the Magic in 2002, doesn't know what his roster will look like this year.
So now the attention of the franchise is centered exclusively on the future of Dwight Howard, who is still in Los Angeles rehabbing from back surgery.
"Will you try to convince Dwight Howard to stay?" WFTV asked.
"I will talk to Dwight as I will with every Magic player we have. That will be my approach," said Vaughn.
Howard met with Magic General Manager Rob Hennigan last week and once again insisted on being traded.
The Magic refused to talk about how they will resolve Howard’s situation, only saying what they've said all along that they will do whatever is in the best interest of the franchise and their fans.
“We want to build a team they can be proud of, that they can relate to, that they can identify with,” said Hennigan.
Hennigan praised Vaughn's work ethic and said player decisions will be made with the coach in mind.
"At the end of the day, it's about putting a group of guys on the floor who want to be coached by Jacque and who represent the types of attributes that our fan base can really rally around," said Hennigan.
“A lot needs to be done, but at the same time that's the thrill, that's the joy, that's what's going to bring me into the office every day and I look forward to that,” said Vaughn.
The Magic also wouldn't rule out the possibility that Howard will still be on the team when the season starts.
As for Van Gundy, WFTV asked the former magic coach how he felt about the hire, and he said he sincerely wishes Vaughn good luck.