24 May 2007

Just Say No to Bob Hill and His Promise of Rashard Lewis

Well, that didn't take long.

A day after Brian Hill was "reassigned", former Magic assistant Bob Hill contacted the organization about its head coaching position, the Orlando Sentinel reports. Last season, Bob Hill coached the Seattle SuperSonics to a 31-51 record. He was fired during the offseason.

But that's not where the story ends. In addition to asking about the job, Hill also told the Magic that he could bring Seattle free-agent Rashard Lewis with him.

I get the impression that GM Otis Smith likes what Hill has to say. Apart from dropping Rashard Lewis' name, the Sentinel reports that Hill said the Magic would play at a faster pace under his tutelage. Smith has said one of the factors leading to Brian Hill's firing was his slow-paced, grind-it-out offensive strategy. It sounds like Smith wants to see the Magic "run and gun" like the Phoenix Suns, and Bob Hill has picked up on it. Like everyone else following the NBA, Hill also noticed the Magic's need for scoring, as they finished 27th in the league in that statistic last season. Lewis provides offense, as he averaged 22.4 points per game for Seattle last season. As a bonus, he shot well from the free-throw line at 84.1%.

In short, Bob Hill wants to run, he knows our flaws, and he can bring with him a 27-year-old swingman who can score. We'd be stupid not to hire him, right?

Wrong. Way wrong.

Let's not wear rose-colored glasses here. I know I mentioned this earlier, but it bears repeating: the Sonics were 31-51 last season under Hill. Granted, they suffered injuries to Ray Allen and Lewis, but the Magic also suffered injuries to key players and they still managed to win 40 games. Also, although bringing Lewis in would add a star perimeter player to complement Dwight Howard, it would also use up valuable cap space. Lewis will almost certainly command a max salary, meaning the Magic would not have enough money to re-sign Darko Milicic.

We need to re-sign Darko Milicic.

His modest numbers this season mask the fact that he came off the bench when he should have been starting. He was also used ineffectively, as Brian Hill and the Magic coaches envisioned him as a traditional, back-to-the-basket big man. While his post skills have certainly improved, he's much more effective as a distributor and jump shooter in the vein of Chris Webber. And at 21, he's much younger than Lewis is. Further, a frontcourt tandem of Dwight Howard and Darko Milicic would prove formidable, especially in the meek Eastern Conference.

In short, Rashard Lewis is good for the short term, but Darko Milicic has more potential for long-term success. Thus, he would be the better signee, and Hill's offer of Lewis doesn't persuade me that he would make a good coach for this team.

There also has to be a question of character being raised here. It's one thing to contact an employer to inquire about a job opening; I would know, as I've spent plenty of time doing just that over the past month. However, it's quite another to contact an employer to inquire about a job opening AND dangle a carrot in front of it. It smacks of desperation and amateurism on the part of Bob Hill, and the Magic would be wise to turn down the offer.

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