ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -The Orlando Magic seemed to be making progress with their first postseason appearance in four seasons.
But it was over in a flash, and the Magic still didn't win half of their games. They couldn't beat the Detroit Pistons even once in eight tries.
All those things piled up for Brian Hill's second dismissal as Magic coach, general manager Otis Smith said Thursday.
``This wasn't an easy decision by any stretch of the imagination,'' Smith said. ``It was something that kept me up nights trying to figure out, 'Is this the right thing to do at this time for this young basketball team?'''
The one thing Smith knows for sure? He's got a tall order for Hill's replacement.
``I believe we have one of the best sports franchises in the country, so I think we should expect our team to win a championship,'' Smith said. ``Short-term expectations of the next guy is to win a championship.''
Hill is still the most successful coach in the young franchise's history, and the Magic are laboring to keep things friendly. They're prepared to offer him another job, and still wouldn't say Thursday if Hill was fired or asked to resign.
Hill was not immediately available to comment.
He was Orlando's coach from 1993-1997, taking a young Shaquille O'Neal and Penny Hardaway to the NBA Finals in 1995. The club dismissed him halfway through the 1996-97 season and brought him back in 2005 after several others failed to produce.
Hill inherited a team with 36 wins and posted the same record last season. This year Orlando improved by four games, but got bounced from the playoffs in four straight by the Pistons. The Magic also lost all four times to Detroit in the regular season.
Orlando started the season hot, helping Hill earn the Eastern Conference Coach of the Month award after a 12-4 November. By April, they barely made the postseason as a No. 8 seed.
Smith acknowledged inconsistency at the top. Hill was their fourth coach in four years, including an interim for two months before Hill's 2005 hiring.
Smith refused to talk specifically about replacement candidates.
``You guys are going to call me again for the next couple of weeks and I'm not going to answer my calls or e-mails for the next couple weeks until we get the right person,'' he said.
Some suggested plucking Billy Donovan from nearby Gainesville after the Florida Gators' second straight NCAA championship, but Donovan said Thursday he'd stay put.
Smith said Orlando needed more offensive imagination and someone to help develop its young core.
Grant Hill's status is still uncertain as he considers retirement. The often-injured 34-year-old's contract expired after this season, and he could opt for another year with Orlando or a title run somewhere else.
``I think our team is attractive enough to get some attention from some other coaches that might be available out there right now,'' Smith said.

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