Q&A: Magic GM Rob Hennigan

Posted by Unknown on Tuesday, January 13, 2015 with No comments
Courtesy of Josh Robbins

Orlando Sentinel: What’s your assessment of the team’s first half?
Rob Hennigan: We’ve had an up-and-down season so far. That’s how I’d categorize it. It’s been encouraging at times. It’s been frustrating at times. And, unfortunately, I think we’ve felt more frustration than we have encouragement, so obviously that’s something we need to figure out collectively.
OS: How troubling have the team’s recent struggles been? The win over the Bulls last night was a good win. But, before that, the team had lost 11 of its last 14 games.
Hennigan: Am I disappointed with our team’s inconsistent play? Yes. Am I frustrated with our overall effort and competitive spirit? Yes. Am I frustrated with our recent play after we had a seemingly good start to the season in spite of a tough road schedule? Yes. So it’s on all of us collectively to start turning this around, and I think Step One is rediscovering our competitive spirit and belief in each other and cementing that as a constant. That’s where it starts and then from there I think we can begin to address the residual effects. But it starts with reigniting our competitive spirit — a competitive spirit that we’ve seen in certain games but, as I said, just not consistently enough.
OS: “Reigniting the competitive spirit,” as you say — did you see that lacking in the losses to the Sixers, Hornets and Lakers?  
Hennigan: We’ve seen it in those games, but I think it’s also raised its head at various points in the year. The challenge is figuring out how to smooth the variance of our effort and making it a constant, dependable variable versus a questionable one.
OS: What do you make of the team’s struggles at home?
Hennigan: There’s usually an explanation for everything, and this is an issue of which we’re still trying to pinpoint the cause. We’ll get to the bottom of it, but it’s frustrating. It is. It’s frustrating. We definitely owe it to our fans to put forth a more intense effort and approach to the game each night. Look, we understand the frustration of the fans. Honestly, I’d be concerned if they weren’t frustrated. They deserve to see a more consistent effort from us, especially on our home floor. So our focus is squarely on trying to get back to what we did right earlier in the season and we’ll continue to roll up our sleeves and have some real, honest conversations with each other and keep at it.
OS: The team is 10-15 on the road. Is there an explanation for the improvement there?
Hennigan: I think our guys are maturing mentally and are understanding the discipline and the resolve that it takes to win on the road. And I think because of that we’ve developed a puncher’s mentality on the road, and that’s something that for the second half of the season we need to begin to generate and establish here at home.
OS: What kind of job has Jacque Vaughn done?
Hennigan: I think Jacque has done a solid job. I think there are certainly areas that we can improve as a team. But it’s not our nature to rush to judgment on things. I think we understand there’s a lot of emotion, and we certainly acknowledge that. But as we evaluate anything, it’s our job to kind of eliminate that emotion. I’ve said that quite a few times, but I really do mean that when I say it’s our job to eliminate the emotion as much as we can, especially when it comes to evaluating the team and the staff and especially when we’re trying to troubleshoot challenges that we’re having.
OS: Is his job safe for this season?
Hennigan: Look, we’re clearly in a rut and we need to find our way out of it together. The buck starts and stops with me. I’m responsible for the team and its performance, plain and simple. I’m constantly evaluating myself and ways in which I can do a better job for our team, and that will continue to be the case, and I’ll continue to make sure I’m evaluating every inch of the organization. It’s my job to make sure that we’re constantly evaluating every aspect of the organization from top to bottom. So, to your question, I’d say that everyone and everything is being evaluated right now. I wouldn’t be doing my job if that weren’t the case. I’ll also say that there’s not one isolated problem or issue and that we need to collectively be part of generating the solution.
OS: Then, how do you evaluate your own performance?
Hennigan: Just by taking an honest look in the mirror and trying to figure out ways we can improve the team, things maybe we could’ve done better and just confronting the brutal reality of things that we can improve upon and having the courage to make those types of evaluations.
OS: Is there an area where you feel like you can improve upon?
Hennigan: I would say again that it’s not one problem or issue, but I think clearly we can all improve and it’s our job to collectively put our heads together and lean on each other and collaborate in a spirit that will lead to continual growth and improvement.
OS: Primarily last night, players said that part of the team’s identity will be pushing the pace. Is that what the identity needs to be, similar to what was seen last night and similar to what was seen in Portland?
Hennigan: I think we’re still trying to figure out the best pace for our team, and the identity of what we want our identity to be remains the same. We want to play smart, physical, unselfish, defensive-minded basketball, and we need to continue towards cementing an identity.
OS: When you look back on it, was there too much turnover on the roster during the offseason?
Hennigan: I think there clearly have been a lot of new pieces, and with that comes a lot of moving parts, and sometimes it’s hard to quantify how long it takes for players to acclimate to one another and get comfortable with one another. I think that’s a little bit of a factor, but we’ll never use that as an excuse.
OS: What do you make of Channing Frye’s recent struggles and the team’s play at the power forward spot?
Hennigan: I think Channing is still finding his way with us. Like we just spoke about, there’s always an adjustment period anytime a player joins a new team and a new coaching staff. So I think Channing’s still adjusting to all the new variables, and Channing will be just fine. I think that a lot of it has to do with just trying to get comfortable and how to play with all these new teammates. And certainly if you look at our team the first half of the year, that power forward position has been a position that’s a work-in-progress for us.
OS: Now that you’re halfway through the season, how far along do you think this rebuilding effort is? How much more work needs to be done before you guys get to where you want to go?
Hennigan: We have a lot of work to be done. Our goal is to be an elite team. That’s been our goal since Day One and that continues to be our mission and that’s a hill we embrace and want to climb each day. So we have a lot of work ahead of us. I do think we’ve made really good strides in a lot of different areas, and I think we have a group of players and a talent base that can serve us very well moving forward, and it’s our job moving forward to continue to push the program and develop the program and continue to place it on an upward trajectory. That’s our goal. That’s our job.
OS: Is there a way to “reignite that competitive spirit?” Is there a roadmap for that for the second half?
Hennigan: I don’t know if there’s a traditional road map or cookbook for that. I think there are a lot of different pathways we can take. And our focus is on just getting that back — whatever it takes to get back that competitive spirit and that intensity and sense of urgency at all times throughout the game.