The Orlando Magic thought they were ready to make a return to the playoffs this year after a steady progression in the standings during their first four years under GM Rob Hennigan. Those seasons saw the Magic, after trading All-Star Dwight Howard, advance from 20 wins in Hennigan's first year to 35 in his fourth season.
Last summer, the Magic dealt young shooting guard Victor Oladipo to the Oklahoma City Thunder as part of a package for veteran power forward Serge Ibaka. They also spent heavily in free agency, filling out their bench with D.J. Augustin, Bismack Biyombo and Jeff Green. The result was, improbably, six fewer wins than in the season before and a point differential (minus-6.5 points per game) scarcely better than in the first season of the rebuild (minus-7.0).
Hennigan paid for the disappointing results with his job, the team announced Thursday. Now, as Orlando searches for Hennigan's replacement, it's worth asking whether the rebuilding project can be salvaged. How bright is the future in Orlando?