Sources: Shaq, Magic to discuss GM
O'Neal, who began his legendary NBA career in Orlando, may meet with the Magic as soon as next week, sources told ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard. While he has no front office experience, the Magic believe O'Neal's presence within the organization could help them retain Dwight Howard.
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Magic officials declined comment Wednesday night when asked about meeting with O'Neal, telling ESPN.com's Marc Stein they will not be publicly discussing the process or timetable of their GM and coach searches in the wake of Monday's dismissals of Stan Van Gundy and Otis Smith.
Orlando president Alex Martins was a member of the Magic organization when O'Neal was there as a player and has a solid relationship with him.
O'Neal, who played for the Magic from 1992 to 1996 and led the club to the NBA Finals in 1995, has verbally sparred with Howard over his use of the "Superman'' nickname that O'Neal popularized during his playing career. But sources close to both Howard and O'Neal insist the two privately have a friendly relationship and often send text messages to one another.
In fact, O'Neal often has been a confidante for Howard during this trying season in Orlando.
Like Howard, O'Neal also had a contentious relationship with Van Gundy, who was fired on Monday.
O'Neal played for Van Gundy while playing for the Miami Heat, and was a proponent of having Heat president Pat Riley replace Van Gundy as coach.
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O'Neal kept his home in Orlando after leaving to join the Los Angeles Lakers in 1996 and still lives in Orlando.
If O'Neal were to be hired by the Magic, the organization likely would bring in a more experienced basketball executive to work alongside him.
O'Neal isn't the only recognizable name potentially on Orlando's radar.
Jerry Sloan has expressed interest in the open Charlotte Bobcats and Magic coaching positions.
The former Utah Jazz coach, who resigned during the 2011 season after 23 seasons with the team, told the Salt Lake Tribune on Tuesday that he has talked to Bobcats owner Michael Jordan about his team's vacancy.
Sloan will interview with Charlotte later this week, league sources told Broussard.
The Bobcats also have permission from the Indiana Pacers to speak with assistant Brian Shaw and from the Los Angeles Lakers to speak with assistant coach Quin Snyder, the sources said. Shaw's interview will take place after the Pacers' season ends.
The sources said Charlotte also will reach out to former Magic coach Stan Van Gundy. The team is not expected to make a decision until after next week's draft lottery, at the earliest.
Earlier Tuesday, Sloan expressed interest in the Magic opening in an interview with Fox Sports Florida, calling the job "intriguing" despite the uncertainty surrounding star center Dwight Howard and the Magic's vacant general manager position after the ouster of Smith.
Sloan said he wasn't deterred by the lowly status of the Bobcats, who won an NBA-worst seven games last season.
"Obviously, you probably wouldn't win [a title] right off the bat," Sloan told the Tribune. "But, sometimes, it's not all about starting on top."
If he were to be hired in Charlotte, Sloan would be working for the man who helped to deny him his two best shots at an NBA title. Sloan led the Jazz to the NBA Finals twice (1997 and 1998), only to lose to Jordan's Chicago Bulls.
The 70-year-old Sloan told the newspaper that he feels "terrific" and said he'll "stay out of the way" while teams determine if he's a possible fit.
"If there's some interest in me, fine. If there's not, I understand that, too," Sloan told the Tribune.
Sloan ranks third all-time in regular-season NBA coaching victories with 1,221. Former coaches Lenny Wilkins (1,332) and Don Nelson (1,335) are the only two to have more regular-season victories than Sloan.
He is the only coach in NBA history to win 1,000 games with one team. Sloan's other wins came with the Bulls from 1979 to 1982.
Sloan told Fox Sports Florida that he needed a break from basketball when he left the game in 2011, resigning after a loss to the Bulls.
"I worked  years [as a coach]. It was time for me to move on and see what was going on in the world. That's been kind of interesting. But I still have that void of basketball," Sloan told the regional sports network.
Information from ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard and ESPN.com's Marc Stein contributed to this report.