We'll try to talk seriously about Shaq and the possibility the Orlando Magic could be looking at him as a general manager candidate. It's a ridiculous notion that came out of nowhere, reported by Chris Broussard on Wednesday afternoon. It gets Shaq's name in the press and immediately put the Orlando GM search into the spotlight.
But there's almost no chance it happens. It's a story dripping with sensationalism, but the substance just doesn't seem to be there. It simply doesn't add up.
Marc Stein has a nice piece explaining what's happening and the following excerpt says a lot.
But here's my best read on the subject with the help of a few observers plugged into the league's front-office grapevine: Shaq has been lobbying behind the scenes to be considered for the position, and the Magic -- in spite of the nastiest of divorces with O'Neal in the summer of 1996 -- are willing to at least sit down with the 40-year-old and give him the courtesy of hearing what he has to say.
The Magic won't talk about their general manager search and are staying tight-lipped about everything. Judging by Stein's comments and the nature of the Shaq rumor, it seems pretty clear what's going on here. Shaq wants his name out there, and wants to be connected to the general manager job. Thus, the rumors are coming from his camp.
Then there's the real issue the Magic have to deal with when finding a new head coach and general manger, and it may be a no-win situation. Orlando will do everything in its power to keep Dwight Howard, including tailoring their hires around his wants. Make the right hires -- people Howard likes -- and is possible the star forward stays. But there's no guarantee.
Which is where this report about Shaq, from RealGM, comes into play.
The Magic believe the presence of O'Neal within the front office would help their chances of retaining Howard. Sources close to O'Neal and Howard contend they have a friendly relationship. O'Neal has been a confidante to Howard throughout the season as he has dealt with an uncertain future with the franchise.
It's a dangerous line to walk. Sure, Shaq and Howard may be friends. And perhaps that friendship would keep Howard around. Or, as we saw a few months ago, Howard will do what Howard wants to do. Again, nothing is guaranteed with him. He changed his mind over and over during the course of about 24 hours as the trade deadline neared a few months ago. What's to say he won't play the same game again when the situation arises again?
And then you're talking about Shaq having to handle a personnel situation that could send the Magic back to the Stone Age if handled incorrectly.
Whether Shaq has a real shot at the job doesn't matter too much. Because of the shock value, the "news" will serve as fodder for the next day, or two, or however long it takes to fall from the news cycle, all because of a report that blatantly appears to be leaked from Shaq's camp.