While two eye-catching names -- Phil Jackson and Shaquille O'Neal -- were reported and then quickly dismissed as candidates to be the Orlando Magic's next general manager, sources say the team has been having talks with a less-splashy-but-more-substantive possibility: Tom Penn.
An NBA analyst for ESPN focusing primarily on salary-cap issues, Penn, 44, has a legal and financial background. Increasingly, NBA teams are giving that kind of experience more weight than having played in the league when hiring front-office personnel.
Recently hired GMs Bob Myers (Golden State) and Neil Olshey (Portland) both have backgrounds that are more academic than athletic.
Penn worked for seven seasons (2000-2007) as both legal counsel and assistant general manager for the Grizzlies and then three seasons as assistant GM with the Blazers. While with Portland, Penn helped the team pare a bloated payroll while remaining competitive but shedding their "JailBlazers" image. Penn also has some experience as a player agent.
Former New Orleans Hornets GM Jeff Bower also has been reported to be a candidate, according to CBS Sports.