Thursday, April 19, 2018
Sports

Magic sees signs of improvement

ORLANDO — It has been two seasons since the Magic went through near-wholesale changes that included a franchise player's exit and bringing in a new general manager and coaching staff.

The two seasons since have produced just 20 and 23 victories following Wednesday night's season finale.

While fans haven't seen a lot of positive oncourt results yet, the new regime is hoping that it can remain patient entering what could the most pivotal offseason to date of the current rebuilding project.

"I think if you look back on the year, I think we made some positive strides. Strides in the right direction," Magic general manager Rob Hennigan said Thursday.

Solid seasons from No. 2 overall draft pick Victor Oladipo and third-year center Nik Vucevic gives team officials even more confidence. The Magic has two lottery picks in June's draft and roster flexibility to bring in veterans.

"I think there are more steps than just the win and loss column. You can prepare to win. There's also cultivating," coach Jacque Vaughn said. "It's similar to a garden. You have to cultivate, you have to feed it. You got to weed out some things. You got to fertilize it. So there's steps to making that garden grow."

Point guard Jameer Nelson, 32, who has spent his entire 10-year career in Orlando, is the oldest player. There is uncertainty about whether Nelson will be back next season. He is due $8 million in the final year of his contract in 2014-15, but the Magic would owe him $2 million if he is waived by July 15.

"I would love to continue to play here and be here and see this thing turn around. I'll just keep my fingers crossed,'' Nelson said.

MELO MEETS JACKSON: Carmelo Anthony said he wants to stay in New York and said he wants to win. It will be up to new team president Phil Jackson to convince him that he can do both. "I want to come back. I also want to win. Me wanting to be here, if we can put ourselves in position to at least compete at a high level over the course of whatever, five years, the contract would be, then I'm willing to stay here," he said. Anthony met with Jackson, then said he's "not at a point in my career where I want to rebuild." Anthony endorsed coach Mike Woodson, despite the Knicks going 37-45 and missing the playoffs. Amare Stoudemire said Woodson wasn't at his exit meeting with Jackson and GM Steve Mills.

ADELMAN OUT? Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman will not return next season, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The Timberwolves went 40-42 this season, and Adelman, 67, has a 97-133 record in three seasons in Minnesota.

Sager's son tweets dad's illness: TNT sideline reporter Craig Sager begins treatment today for acute leukemia, his son Craig Sager II tweeted. Sager's son said the family found out about the leukemia after being told his father was clear.

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