The NBA has apparently taken notice of a previous shortcoming and taken steps to address it, or at least owners have seen the success this year in the playoffs of Black coaches because they suddenly are hot commodities. The official
announcement of Jamahl Mosley as the new head coach of the Orlando Magic Monday made it four new Blacks added to the roster of NBA head coaches. 

Mosley follows the hiring of Ime Udoka in Boston, Chauncy Billups in Portland, and Jason Kidd in Dallas. One could even say technically it’s five as Nate McMillan had the interim taken off his name and signed a new four-year deal as the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks. He guided the Hawks to a 27-11 record and the Eastern Conference Finals, but he’d already coached in the NBA at two previous stops.

Mosley’s hiring parallels the route owners now seem to be taking in tabbing assistants with plenty of prior coaching experience and with good reputations for getting along with players. Relationships are extremely important in pro sports, but no more so than in pro basketball, where players often make more than coaches, and an inability to co-exist and get on the same page with superstars can quickly spell disaster for any coach.

During his time with Dallas, Mosley had a strong relationship with the Mavericks’ star Luka Doncic. It’s hoped that he can get the Magic at least back into playoff contention. Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said in a statement that he’s looking forward to what lies ahead with Mosley.

“We would like to welcome Jamahl and his family to the Magic family,” said Weltman. “Within the NBA coaching community, Jamahl is considered a rising star. His coaching path is rooted in player development. He is a communicator and connector, and we look forward to him leading our group.”

However, Mosley is also tackling a job where success has proven elusive. He’ll be  the 15th head coach in the 32 seasons of the Orlando Magic franchise. He replaces Steve Clifford, who mutually parted ways with the team on June 5. Unlike some other candidates, though he played at the University of Colorado (1997-2001) and scored 1,171 career points, Mosley didn’t play in the NBA. But after some time in overseas leagues, he coached with the Denver Nuggets and the Cleveland Cavaliers before joining the Mavs in 2014.

The Magic are hoping that Mosley can do for them what Monty Williams has done with the Phoenix Suns, which is is resurrect a franchise that’s been both non-competitive and boring for years. He’ll be heading a rebuilding phase that began at this past season’s trading deadline. The Magic dealt veterans Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier. It will be critical that Mosley find a way to develop  young-but-experienced 23-year-olds Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz, both coming off torn ACL injuries.

Fultz, the Magic point guard the past two seasons, was injured in early January, and Isaac, a 6-foot-10 athletic forward, was injured during a playoff game last season in the Disney bubble. They’re also hoping that Mosley can get more from veteran shooter Terrence Ross, who had a big season for the Magic during 2018-19. That year he made more than 200 3-pointers coming off the bench as the sixth man.

The jobs of Billups, Udoka and Kidd will be no less difficult. All are leading teams that were either big disappointments (Boston) or playoff failures (Portland, Dallas) this past season. But their hiring is a good thing for the league, and a signal that owners are beginning to pay attention to assistants who’ve earned a shot at a head spot rather than just going for big names with limited or no pro experience.