The Orlando Magic are closing in on Dallas Mavericks assistant Jamahl Mosley, who has emerged as the strong front-runner to become the franchise’s next head coach, sources told ESPN on Thursday.
Conversations are ongoing, but Mosley, 42, has separated himself in the organization’s search process, sources told ESPN.
As the Magic move into a full rebuild with a roster core of young players and the fifth and eighth overall picks in this month’s NBA draft, Mosley’s reputation in player development and his ability to build relationships and hold players accountable have resonated with Magic management, sources said.
The Magic are replacing Steve Clifford, who mutually parted with the team last month. The Magic had reached the playoffs in consecutive years before trade deadline deals including All-Star Nikola Vucevic (Chicago) and Evan Fournier (Boston) moved them into a rebuilding mode.
The Magic’s search process had narrowed to two candidates, Mosley and Denver assistant Wes Unseld Jr., who has also emerged as one of the leading candidates for the Washington Wizards’ vacancy, sources said.
Mosley’s role with the Mavericks over the past seven years has notably included his close connection and impactful work with All-NBA guard Luka Doncic. After Mosley replaced a quarantined Rick Carlisle for a Mavericks victory in Madison Square Garden in April, Doncic told reporters of Mosley, “He’s got the things needed for a head coach.”
Mosley had also emerged as a finalist for the Wizards’ head-coaching job, sources told ESPN. In the past two years, Mosley has become a serious contender for head-coaching vacancies and now is on the brink of breaking through to become the Magic’s coach.
Mosley spent the past seven years with the Mavericks under Carlisle, elevating to the associate head coaching role. Mosley spent four years with the Cleveland Cavaliers (2010-2014) and Denver Nuggets (2005-2010). Mosley’s offensive philosophy has been shaped under two Hall of Fame-level coaches — George Karl and Carlisle.
Mosley was undrafted out of the University of Colorado in 2005, playing overseas for four years before embarking on his first NBA job: a player development role with the Nuggets.
Beyond the two lottery picks in the deep draft, the Magic have a young core of players that includes recent first-round picks Cole Anthony, Chuma Okeke, Mo Bamba and Wendell Carter Jr. The Magic potentially could have $30 million in salary-cap space to spend in free agency.
The Magic also expect to get two starters back from season-ending injuries — guard Markelle Fultz and forward Jonathan Isaac.