When the Orlando Magic started searching for a new general manager a month ago, franchise officials sought someone who has experience working for a championship team.
The Magic think they've found the right person — even though he's just 30 years old.
The team on Wednesday hired Rob Hennigan, who has spent the past four seasons working for the Western Conference champion Oklahoma City Thunder and the four seasons before that working for another highly respected small-market team, the San Antonio Spurs.
Hennigan becomes the league's youngest general manager, but he isn't the youngest in league history.
"He's got experience working for championship organizations beyond his years, and from my perspective, this is his time," Magic CEO Alex Martins told the Orlando Sentinel. "He's prepared himself for this opportunity, and the experience that he's gotten from two of the most successful organizations in our league has prepared him to develop and build his own successful basketball operation."
Martins said he offered Hennigan the job at 3 Wednesday afternoon. Within a couple of hours, they had reached an agreement in principle.
Martins expects the deal to be finalized Thursday, and the Magic will introduce Hennigan at a news conference Thursday afternoon at Amway Center.
Hennigan spent the past two seasons as the Thunder's assistant general manager/player personnel and oversaw the team's pro-, college- and international-scouting departments.
With Oklahoma City, he worked under highly regarded Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti, who also got his start with the Spurs and became the Thunder's GM at age 30 when the team was still based in Seattle and was known as the SuperSonics.
The Thunder built their team into a powerhouse by combining some luck in the NBA draft lottery with strong management, wise draft selections and several savvy trades. In that way, Thunder strongly resemble the Spurs, who have won four NBA titles since the 1998-99 season.
Former New Orleans Hornets GM Jeff Bower and Spurs Vice President/Assistant GM Dennis Lindsey were the two other finalists for the Magic's GM job. Bower, Lindsey and Hennigan met with members of the DeVos family in Michigan in recent days.
"We felt that Rob set himself apart from the other finalists with his vision, with his approach towards process and procedure, his detailed plan for building a successful basketball operation and a strong focus on innovation in so many parts of the basketball operation," Martins said.
"Whether it's a holistic approach towards player development or the utilization of analytics in the decision-making process of player personnel, Rob brings a great deal of innovation to the role. And we feel that it will allow us to build a basketball operation that will be sustainable in its success for a long period of time."
Hennigan replaces Otis Smith, whom the team parted with May 21.
Hennigan inherits a difficult situation in Orlando — one muddied by superstar center Dwight Howard's uncertain future and by the team's limited payroll flexibility.
Many NBA observers expect Howard to seek a trade, but Hennigan will try to speak with Howard and sell him on a vision for the team's future.
If Howard insists he will not sign a long-term extension with the franchise, Hennigan likely will have to trade him.
Hennigan has other tasks ahead of him.
The team doesn't have a head coach, having fired Stan Van Gundy the same day it let Smith go.
In addition, the NBA draft looms June 28, several days before teams can begin speaking with free agents.
Hennigan will have additional personnel decisions to make in the near future — including decisions related to potential unrestricted free agent Jameer Nelson and future restricted free agent Ryan Anderson.
A native of Worcester, Mass., Hennigan graduated from Emerson College, a school in downtown Boston that focuses education in communications and the arts. There, he starred as a basketball player and planned to become a broadcast journalist.
Presti also attended Emerson.
Although Presti graduated before Hennigan enrolled, Presti has served as a mentor to Hennigan.
Presti got his start with the Spurs, and his presence with the franchise helped Hennigan land an internship fresh out of college.
Now the Magic hope that Hennigan will be just as successful in his first GM job as Presti has been.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times