Orlando Magic will add Mark Price to their coaching staff

BasketballOrlando MagicDwight HowardNBAStan Van GundyAtlanta HawksOtis Smith

The Orlando Magic's first acquisition since June is a former player who owns the highest career free-throw percentage in league history.

And team officials hope he'll help everyone on the roster — including Dwight Howard — shoot better.

The Magic will add four-time NBA all-star and former Magic point guard Mark Price to their staff as a player-development coach, and his primary focus will be on helping players with their shooting. The Plain Dealer reported the news first.

"Anytime you get an opportunity to add somebody like him to your staff, you do," Magic General Manager Otis Smith told the Orlando Sentinel.

"He'll work a lot with guys on their shooting. That's big for us. Hopefully, he can help Dwight with his free throws and get his free-throw percentages up."

Price, 47, will travel with the team. He'll sit in on coaches' meetings, although assistant coaches Bob Beyer, Steve Clifford, Patrick Ewing and Brendan Malone will continue to share responsibility for prepping for specific opponents.

Last season, Price worked as the Golden State Warriors' shooting coach. The previous two seasons, he served as a shooting consultant for the Atlanta Hawks. Before that, he held a similar consulting position with the Memphis Grizzlies.

Price made 90.4 percent of his foul shots and 40.2 percent of his 3-pointers during his NBA career, which ended with his lone season with the Magic in 1997-98.

"It's not just him being able to shoot, but he's someone who's spent a lot of time studying shooting and studying the teaching of shooting," Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said.

"To be able to add someone like that, we thought, was a great opportunity for us. I was grateful that, at a time when a lot of people around the league are looking to cut their staffs, that our organization was willing to add somebody like that."

Coming off of screens, shooting on-balance and developing a quicker release are all areas Price will examine, Van Gundy said.

Price is expected to be with the Magic when they start training camp Friday.

The team endured its share of difficulties at the line last season. Overall, the team finished last in the league in free-throw accuracy. If you subtract Howard's statistics, the rest of the roster shot only 76.5 percent from the line; that percentage would have ranked the Magic 16th in free-throw accuracy.

The Magic made 36.6 percent of their 3-point attempts, the 10th-highest percentage in the league.

"Looking at the numbers, I think we can be a better free-throw shooting team," Smith said. "We shoot the ball too well to shoot as poorly as we do from the free-throw line."

The abbreviated training camp will work against Price as he attempts to learn players' tendencies and develop working relationships with them.

Monday will be the first day coaches and front-office personnel will be permitted to speak at length with players since the lockout began July 1.

At some point, Smith needs to speak with Howard to determine what Howard's long-term plans are. That could happen Monday.

In the meantime, Smith said he hasn't made a decision about whether the franchise will use the amnesty provision that will be included in the new collective bargaining agreement. Smith also said he still wants to re-sign free-agent shooting guard Jason Richardson.

"We have to look at everything in its totality, not pieces at a time," Smith said.

jbrobbins@tribune.com. Read his blog at OrlandoSentinel.com/magicblog. Subscribe to our Orlando Magic newsletter at OrlandoSentinel.com/joinus.

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BasketballOrlando MagicDwight HowardNBAStan Van GundyAtlanta HawksOtis Smith
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