New coach Jamahl Mosley is connector Magic hope can get them through rebuilding phase

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Upon first meeting Jamahl Mosley, his initial appearance tells a great deal about why the Orlando Magic hired him as their 15th head coach in franchise history.

He has a long wingspan.

The Magic put a great amount of stock in length and the 6-foot-8 Mosley certainly fits the pattern that brought players like Jonathan Isaac, Mo Bamba and others to Orlando.

It’s not about the physicality of Mosley’s length that stands out in a coaching role, however. It’s the former Dallas Mavericks’ assistant coach’s ability to reach and connect with players that ultimately brought him to Orlando.

One can easily tell right away what the Magic liked about Mosley. He’s described as a connector, a people person, and a coach with a charismatic personality who cares about his players. He’s also a coach who is going to make his players work hard and get the most out of their potential.

If Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman were to post a job listing for the perfect candidate, a description of Mosley would likely have been quite close to what he would have penned. Weltman sees all of the above in Mosley, who was hired by the Magic to replace former coach Steve Clifford on Sunday.

“It’s a very, very exciting day for our team as we welcome in a coach with great promise, great potential ... who will do an amazing job for us as we enter the next phase of our development of our team,” Weltman said Monday during a Zoom press conference. “We met with a lot of very qualified coaching candidates and obviously Jamahl impressed us more every time we met with him.

“Jamahl has a unique set of abilities ... his passion, his experience, his ability to connect ... He has an amazing interpersonal skillset with anyone and it stems from his compassion as a person. He’s a great listener, he cares, he wants to get involved in people’s lives and he’s a true coach. He wants to make you better. Where we are, it’s a perfect fit.”

Mosley is known as a player-development type of coach and Weltman and the Magic front office staff of CEO Alex Martins, general manager John Hammond, assistant general manager Matt Lloyd and Lakeland G-League affiliate general manager Anthony Parker collectively decided Mosley was the man to take the Magic through their current youth movement and rebuilding phase and into the future.

Mosley said it was his upbringing that gave him all the qualities he carries with pride today. His mother, who passed away 16 years ago, instilled all of that in her son and he has carried it like a family torch.

“I was raised that way ... my mother, her being able to just communicate all of the things that I needed to do and needed to be,” Mosley said. “When it came to coaching, I get that early on from Tim Grgurich (former Nuggets assistant). He was my mentor. ... and that was about communication and being able to have a relationship with guys, but also being able to hold them accountable because you have their best interest in mind.

“When guys know you care about them getting better, as a player and as a human being, then it’s a great combination.”

The first-year head coach said it wasn’t about selling himself to the Magic in order to get the job, but rather just being himself.

“All my mentors, the one thing they always told me was just be yourself,” Mosley said, “so you’re not really selling yourself when you are just being yourself. So my level of communication is just me being me.”

There was a sales pitch involved, however. Mosley and his wife, Kristina, have three children: Jemma (7 years old), C.J. (6) and Chance (4), and the offspring weren’t too keen on moving away from Dallas at first. The coach said that changed quickly.

“We had to get them excited. Initially they didn’t want to leave because this is their first move, their first transition,” Mosley said, “so they were sad for about five minutes, but when my wife started talking about Disney World and how they could go when they wanted to go, that changed it.”

Mosley said he “absolutely” had Orlando in mind as a team and destination that fit himself and his family, but he also knew it wasn’t that simple.

“Everyone thinks that because there is a job opening, that you can just say, ‘Hey, look at me. I’m ready for the job.’ " Mosley said. “But there has to be a mutual interest, so when I found the mutual interest, it was very exciting because of all the things that this organization represents.”

He said the initial stages of the interviews consisted of two Zoom interviews, and then the Magic brought him in for the face-to-face encounter.

“It was a very good process. It was a thorough process, but it was a good process,” Mosley said. “I had done interviews at other places, but this was very thorough and very good.”

What Magic fans want to know is how Mosley will approach the rebuilding phase the franchise is currently in. Mosley reiterated several times Monday that an alignment of ideas and processes will be critical as he works with the Magic front office to move the franchise beyond its current status.

He continuously pointed to working with the Magic brass, and it’s obvious he’ll be the guy in charge of Xs and Os, but the upper management and scouting personnel of the Magic will take care of the talent evaluations, especially when it pertains to the upcoming NBA Draft, which is July 29.

The Magic will build this team around 23-year-old stars forward Jonathan Isaac and point guard Markelle Fultz, and Mosley is excited about the team’s potential.

Mosley spent seven seasons as an assistant in Dallas prior to coming to Orlando, and prior to that, was also in Denver and Cleveland. He pointed to the Cavaliers rebuilding process as a possible comparison to what Orlando will be going through.

“The youngness of the team reminds me maybe of being in Cleveland [2010-14] for a bit, but there is a different level and a different vibe to this team here,” Mosley said. “Just seeing the guys and meeting the guys, there is a different vibe with this group.

“It’s their character, willingness to work and their love of wanting to play basketball and be in the gym and just how great of young men they are.”

Mosley is known for his ability to get his players to play defense with an aggressive, in-your-face style. But he’s not only about defense. He has a plan for all phases.

“Overall the philosophy will be about hard work, making sure we compete every single day with positivity and positive energy,” Mosley said. “Offensively it’s going to be about the pace of the game, the spacing of the floor and the passing of the basketball. ... Defensively, it’s going to be about our toughness, it’s going to be about our talking, a high-communicating group and the last piece is about being tied together.”

And that appears to be the key with Mosley. He’s the connector. He will look to bring this team together and buy in to his philosophies. With that, he’s hopeful the winning will take care of itself.

“I find it hard to talk about myself, but I do pride myself in being able to have relationships with everyone and be a connector of people,” Mosley said. “I think that’s why it’s such a great fit here because it’s such a connected, family-type organization.”

The next steps for Mosley will be putting together a staff, which will be done with input from the management group, and then comes the draft and the summer league.

“You lean on the experts. Jeff, John, Matt, Anthony Parker ... they’ve done a good job at what they do,” Mosley said. “It’s my job to find a way to help support, listen, be a fly on the wall and allow them to do exactly the things that they have been studying.

“I come in with a day-to-day growth mindset. If you can go day-to-day growing and getting better ... the end result will take care of itself.”

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