ORLANDO, FLA.: The situation facing Orlando Magic coach Jacque Vaughn is strikingly similar to the scenario Byron Scott walked into three years ago with the Cavaliers.
The difference is Scott was a veteran who had already directed two teams to the NBA Finals and also won a Coach of the Year award before arriving in Cleveland. Vaughn is a first-year head coach left to sweep up the pieces from the Dwight Howard era.
Scott walked into the Cavaliers as the new hire of then-rookie General Manager Chris Grant. He had no ties to LeBron James, therefore he didn’t really have a grieving period over what was lost. Similarly, Vaughn is the hire of first-year Magic General Manager Rob Hennigan and he is approaching his first season in Orlando much the same way.
“I have a great GM I enjoy being around,” Vaughn said. “There’s a purpose and a vision. I have great guys in the locker room I enjoy coaching and that’s what I focus on.”
The Magic, like the Cavs before them, have gutted their roster. They have seven players with less than two years of experience, including four rookies. Only four players — Glen Davis, Jameer Nelson, J.J. Redick and Hedo Turkoglu — remain from last season.
“I try to get my guys better every single day, myself included,” Vaughn said. “In due time, all these things will add up and we’ll look back on this time and see some progress, and hopefully, that renders some success.”
The Cavaliers, in anticipation of Howard possibly leaving, traded second-round pick Justin Harper to the Magic on draft night in 2011 for second-round picks in 2013 and 2014. Given the rebuilding ways of the Magic, the picks should be fairly high in the second round.
Harper, incidentally, was part of the Magic’s final round of cuts at the end of camp. He is playing in the NBA Development League.
Vaughn was a rabid Lakers fan growing up in Pasadena, Calif. As a result, he was also a fan of Scott during his days as the shooting guard on the Showtime Lakers.
“I knew every single Laker player growing up, so I’ve seen No. 4 [Scott] shoot a number of jump shots all my life,” Vaughn said. “I was staring at the TV and cheering.”
Scott never had much of a relationship with Vaughn, who was a high-profile recruit coming out of high school.
Arizona State, Scott’s alma mater, was hard after him. Scott said ASU reached out to him, knowing Vaughn’s ties to Los Angeles, and asked him to place a call to Vaughn on the school’s behalf to try to convince him to play for the Sun Devils.
“He had already made up his mind he was going to Kansas,” Scott said. “There was no need to call the kid.”
Vaughn played 12 seasons in the NBA. He entered the year after Scott retired.
Cavs rookie Dion Waiters has spent a lot of time on and off the court complaining about fouls that aren’t getting called.
“He feels he gets fouled every time he has the ball in his hands,” Scott said. “I take that with a grain of salt. I told him the other day when I was watching the film, he was complaining about getting fouled, he didn’t get touched. They just hit the ball out of bounds.”
Waiters entered Friday in a 16-for-67 shooting slump (24 percent) in his past four games, but he only half-jokingly disputed Scott’s claims he isn’t getting fouled.
“I know I’ve been getting fouled,” Waiters said. “Coach can’t see everything, especially when you’re on the floor.”
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.