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Gabriel blamed for Grant Hill fiasco

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Orlando Magic are headed for their
first losing season in 12 years, so they decided to make a
leadership change.

Orlando demoted general manager John Gabriel and replaced him
with chief operating officer John Weisbrod on Friday.

The Magic are 19-48 heading into Saturday night's game against
Seattle.

"The problems are what they are -- we're not winning," Magic
president Bob Vander Weide said. "We wanted some change."

The announcement came three days after the Magic revealed that
oft-injured forward Grant Hill will miss the rest of the season.
Gabriel orchestrated the trade for Hill in 2000 and signed the
five-time All-Star to a seven-year, $93 million contract.

Hill has played just 47 games for Orlando, making three failed
comebacks from a stress fracture in his left foot. He has had four
operations on the ankle.

Hill's contract has financially strapped the Magic for years,
hurting their ability to surround All-Star Tracy McGrady with
impact players. Gabriel has been largely blamed for it.

"This is a very performance-driven business and our performance
has not been good this year," Gabriel said. "I take
responsibility for that."

Weisbrod is the former vice president and general manager of the
International Hockey League's Orlando Solar Bears, who won two
conference championships during his four year watch.

Vander Weide dismissed assertions that Weisbrod does not have
enough experience in basketball to take over the job.

"He has been on teams that have won," Vander Weide said. "He
has competed as a professional athlete. He doesn't necessarily go
out with the players and play one-on-one with him, but they
understand that he knows how to win."

The Magic started 1-10 this season, prompting Gabriel to fire
coach Doc Rivers in November and replace him with Johnny Davis.
Orlando then lost another nine straight games en route to the worst
start in franchise history.

Gabriel, who will serve as a team adviser and regional scout,
has been with the Magic since their inception in 1989, serving as a
vice president of basketball operations, director of player
personnel, director of scouting and assistant coach before becoming
general manager in 1996.

He was named the NBA Executive of the Year in 2000 after the
Magic finished 41-41.

Gabriel signed Hill and McGrady the following year, hoping to
push the Magic to the forefront of the Eastern Conference. But
Orlando hasn't gotten past the first round of the playoffs in the
last three seasons.

Weisbrod will conduct a search for an assistant general manager.

"We have a lot of work to do, and arguably this forthcoming
summer is the most important summer in the history of our
franchise," Weisbrod said.