Scott Skiles Has Coaching Options: Which Team Is A Better Fit — Orlando Magic Or New Orleans Pelicans?

Experienced NBA coach Scott Skiles has emerged as a candidate for the vacant New Orleans Pelicans head coaching position, according to an ESPN report.

League sources told ESPN that Skiles, along with Golden State Warriors associate head coach Alvin Gentry and ESPN Analyst Jeff Van Gundy, are among the candidates who have interviewed with the Pelicans for the position.

The Chicago Bulls fired coach Tom Thibodeau on Thursday, and according to the Times-Picayune, he could emerge as a candidate for the Pelicans job as well.

Just a couple of days ago, Peter Vecsey reported that Skiles was the definitive front-runner for the vacant Orlando Magic head coaching position.

It is not surprising that Skiles is such a hot coaching commodity. He is a smart basketball guy who did a very good job in previous stops, but he did eventually wear out his welcome. Skiles, who has a 443-433 career record in 13 seasons overall, is known as a tough, defensive-minded coach. He has reached the playoffs in six of his 10 full seasons as a head coach. He has coached the Bulls, Suns, and Bucks.

Both teams need help on the defensive end, and Skiles has ties to both organizations. He played for the Magic and coached Pelicans general manager Dell Demps when he played in Greece.

Since Skiles has options now, which is the better job?

New Orleans went 45-37 and just missed the playoffs this year. The Pelicans ranked 11th in the NBA in scoring defense, surrendering 98.6 points a game but ranked No. 22 in the league in defensive rating (107.3).

New Orleans has some good young talent, led by bonafide superstar Anthony Davis. The Pelicans also have a solid point guard in Jrue Holiday, a good wing scorer in Tyreke Evans, and a couple a solid role players in Ryan Anderson along with Quincy Pondexter.

New Orleans has seven unrestricted free agents, with center Omar Asik being the biggest, and two restricted free agents — Jeff Withey and Norris Cole. Eric Gordon has a player option at over $15 million, which he will likely pick up though the Pelicans would prefer he didn’t.

New Orleans has just a second round selection (No. 56) in this coming draft, but they could have some money to spend. The Pelicans have reportedly targeted Goran Dragic and Royce White as potential free agent targets.

In the meantime, Orlando is still rebuilding. The Magic have missed the playoffs for the last three years and went 25-57 this past season. Orlando ranked No. 25 in the league in scoring (95.7 ppg) and No. 23 in scoring defense (101.4 ppg). The Magic also had a defensive rating of 107.7 (No. 24 in the league).

The Magic are a very young team with eight players younger than 25-years-old and 10 players with less than four years of experience. There is talent in Orlando, led by Nikola Vucevic, Victor Olidipio and Tobias Harris. Last year’s first round selections, Elfrid Peyton and Aaron Gordon, still have lots to learn, but there is plenty of time for the youngsters to progress.

The Magic have two selections in the 2015 draft — No. 5 and No. 51. Harris and Kyle O’Quinn are restricted free agents while Willie Green is an unrestricted free agent. Orlando should have plenty of cap room to pursue any player they want in free agency, and they have reportedly targeted Kostas Koufas.

[Photo by Chris Chambers]

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