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Frank Vogel Fits With the Magic, But What About the Road Not Taken?

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On paper, Frank Vogel’s decision to take the Orlando head-coaching job makes a lot of sense: Vogel is a professional basketball coach in need of a job, the Magic are a professional basketball team in need of a coach, and the only other franchise with interest in hiring him was the notoriously dysfunctional and decrepit Memphis Grizzlies. By contrast, the Magic offered a young core of players and a general manager not named Chris Wallace. With Houston uninterested, Orlando looked like Vogel’s best bet.

But what about Option C? Take a year off.

After all, you get only so many opportunities to be an NBA head coach, and a guy with Vogel’s track record — five playoff berths in six seasons, a pair of trips to the Eastern Conference finals — could have waited to land somewhere better than Orlando. The Magic’s last head man, NBA vagabond Scott Skiles, made it one season before tapping out. And though it may be young, beyond Aaron Gordon the Magic’s roster is largely composed of one-dimensional spare parts. The Magic were bad enough to be in the lottery this season but not lucky enough to land a top-10 pick in the draft. So, unless Kevin Durant bases his looming free-agency decision on proximity to theme parks, Orlando appears to be stuck in NBA purgatory.

For an example, just look at Tom Thibodeau. Despite a seemingly maniacal obsession with basketball, he took a year off, and now he’s in Minnesota, coaching the most promising young roster in the league. In the NBA, turnover is a given, and something better than the Orlando gig (New Orleans?) would’ve likely opened up over the next year. At the very least, Vogel could have gotten free dinners from thirsty, coachless franchises — a move Jeff Van Gundy has perfected into an art form in recent years.

In the meantime, Vogel could have worked as a TV analyst to satisfy his basketball (and financial) needs. Plus, who knows: Maybe he would have been able to find some extra time to devote to making additional cameos on The Bachelor and/or opening up a patisserie with his wife. Instead, he’ll attempt to do the impossible and teach Mario Hezonja how to play defense. I know what I’d rather be doing.