The Orlando Magic and Otis Smith, the team’s president of basketball operations and general manager, have parted ways.
The Magic historically have promoted from within, elevating John Weisbrod to the general manager’s job in March 2004 and moving Smith to the GM job in May 2006.
But there are no shortage of potential candidates.
In alphabetical order, possibilities include:
Jeff Bower: Bower spent about 15 years in the Hornets organization, working his way up from advance scout to general manager. He was successful at assembling a talented roster despite working under financial constraints. He has experience guiding a franchise in transition; his tenure as GM coincided with the city of New Orleans’ attempts to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. In 2009-10, he served as the team’s interim head coach when Byron Scott was fired and ultimately returned to the GM job after the season ended. Bower’s accomplishments included acquiring center Tyson Chandler in a trade for P.J. Brown and J.R. Smith in July 2006, although he wound up trading Chandler for Emeka Okafor three years later. Bower, 51, is a friend of Stan Van Gundy’s. Bower is a candidate for the Portland Trail Blazers’ vacant GM position.
Adonal Foyle: Foyle’s 13-year tenure as an NBA center included stints with the Golden State Warriors, the Magic and the Memphis Grizzlies, but he finished his career with the Magic. He was widely respected by his Magic teammates, and he rose within the National Basketball Players Association to the position of first vice president. He retired after injuries prevented him from playing during the 2009-10 season, and he has spent the last two years as the Magic’s director of player development, a position Smith once held. Foyle, 37, is expected to be an NBA general manager someday. But is he ready now, after just two years working in a team’s basketball-operations department?
Steve Kerr: Perhaps best known for his NBA playing days as a point guard with uncommon shooting range, Kerr spent three seasons as the Phoenix Suns’ president of basketball operations/general manager. He made his boldest move during the 2007-08 season, acquiring Shaquille O’Neal from the Miami Heat for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks. Kerr, 46, is currently an NBA analyst for Turner Sports.
David Morway: Morway is completing his 13th season with the Indiana Pacers, including his fourth as the team’s general manager. He advises Larry Bird, the team’s president of basketball operations. Morway has been interviewed for the Trail Blazers’ GM position.
Tom Penn: A former criminal defense attorney and former player agent, Penn worked for the Memphis Grizzlies as an assistant general manager and legal counsel from 2000-2007 and for the Trail Blazers from 2007-2010, first as an assistant general manager before he was promoted to vice president of basketball operations. But he was fired by the Trail Blazers 10 months after his promotion, and his dismissal was the first of several bizarre firings by the Blazers’ dysfunctional hierarchy. Penn now works as an in-studio analyst for ESPN.
Kevin Pritchard: Pritchard, 44, was a guard at the University of Kansas and in the NBA, and he served as the Trail Blazers’ general manager for three seasons. He made the decision to select Greg Oden with the top overall pick in 2007; although Oden’s injury-plagued pro career is considered a dismal failure, Oden’s selection was hailed as a no-brainer at the time. Pritchard fell out of favor with the Blazers’ owner, Paul Allen, and was fired on the day of the 2010 NBA draft. Pritchard now serves as the Pacers’ director of player personnel.
Tony Ronzone: Ronzone worked for the Detroit Pistons as their director of basketball operations and for the Minnesota Timberwolves as an assistant general manager. His Timberwolves tenure ended in Sept. 2011, about 16 months after he was hired. But Ronzone was credited for helping persuade Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio to join the T-Wolves for the 2011-12 season and for helping to improve the T-Wolves’ international scouting efforts. Ronzone currently works for USA Basketball as the director of international player personnel for the U.S. men’s national team.
Donnie Walsh: Walsh, 71, is highly regarded. He spent 24 years with the Pacers, building the team into an Eastern Conference contender in the 1990s. He joined the New York Knicks in April 2008 as the team’s president of basketball operations, and he immediately set out to clean up the mess left by Isiah Thomas. Walsh divested the Knicks of long, costly contracts and created cap space. That cap space enabled the franchise to sign Amar’e Stoudemire and make a run at LeBron James during the 2010 offseason. Although the team whiffed on James, it did acquire Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups from the Denver Nuggets in 2010-11, although many league observers believe the Knicks gave up too much in the deal. Walsh left the Knicks last June. He said at the time that he was “running out of energy.”
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