After firing its coach mid-season, then completing the year with an interim coach, Scott Skiles was appointed to the position, once again expected to lead a young Magic squad.
The same expectations he faced during the inaugural season for the franchise.
Skiles was selected with the 11th overall pick in the 1989 NBA Expansion Draft, as Orlando and Minnesota alternated choices among a group of veterans deemed expendable by each team in the league.
When he was brought in by the Magic nearly three decades ago, it was as a point guard, a role in which he excelled.
In his second season with the team, Skiles set an NBA record as he dished out 30 assists against the Nuggets, carrying Orlando to a 155-116 victory.
Even though his tenure with the Magic lasted just five seasons, Skiles still stands as the all-time franchise leader in assists with 2,776.
Now he is tasked with transforming a team brimming with potential into a legitimate playoff threat in the Eastern Conference.
The post season has eluded the Magic for the past three years, ever since the team dealt away Dwight Howard in an attempt to receive some compensation instead of allowing him to just leave as a free agent.
During his introductory press conference, Skiles made it clear he earned the job based on merit, not familiarity.
“I wanted to make sure I was being hired because they thought I could coach, not because I was someone that was affiliated with the organization in the past,” Skiles said. “From afar, I like the things (general manager) Rob (Hennigan) has done. When you elect to go this route of sort of retooling and getting guys through the draft, it can be difficult but also very exciting.”
The rebuilding process continues later this month, when Orlando selects fifth overall in the 2015 NBA Draft.
One of the most pressing issues facing the team this summer is the restricted free agent status of Tobias Harris.
The 22-year-old forward was acquired at the trade deadline from Milwaukee, a team coached by Skiles.
During his tenure with the Bucks, he played just 11.5 minutes a game, starting just 23 times in 70 appearances before being dealt for J.J. Redick.
Since joining the Magic, Harris has averaged 16.2 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.7 assists and has shown a penchant for knocking down game-winning shots.
Harris has drawn interest from numerous teams around the league, but has expressed a desire to remain in Orlando.
There may be an incentive for Harris to move on, as his shoe deal with Nike will be elevated if he joins a team in New York, Los Angeles or Chicago next summer.
“I’m real excited,” Skiles said. “It’s going to be a long summer waiting on the season to start, but there are a lot of things to do, and we’ll get after it right away.”
In his 13 years as a coach, Skiles has posted a record of 443-433 and has lead his team into the post season six times.
Throughout his coaching career, Skiles has developed a reputation of being able to get the most out of his teams, often exceeding their expected talent level.
Skiles has been able to create a defensive identity with each of his teams, but the offense has lacked. Turning Vucevic into a legitimate defender will be one of his biggest obstacles, but if accomplished, Orlando could experience a rapid rise in the standings.
“We want to have a winning record, and the reason I don’t want to just say ‘playoffs,’ and, it may not continue this way, but you’ve been able to have a losing record and make the playoffs in the East,” Skiles said. “If our goal now is to have a losing record and get the eight seed every year, that’s pretty pitiful. We want to have a winning record, and I know that’s a tremendous jump from where we are, but you gotta put that bar up there.”