While two eye-catching names -- Phil Jackson and Shaquille O'Neal -- were reported and then quickly dismissed as candidates to be the Orlando Magic's next general manager, sources say the team has been having talks with a less-splashy-but-more-substantive possibility: Tom Penn.
Penn, who declined to comment, has served in the front offices of both the Portland Trail Blazers and Memphis Grizzlies.
An NBA analyst for ESPN focusing primarily on salary-cap issues, Penn, 44, has a legal and financial background. Increasingly, NBA teams are giving that kind of experience more weight than having played in the league when hiring front-office personnel.
Recently hired GMs Bob Myers (Golden State) and Neil Olshey (Portland) both have backgrounds that are more academic than athletic.
Penn worked for seven seasons (2000-2007) as both legal counsel and assistant general manager for the Grizzlies and then three seasons as assistant GM with the Blazers. While with Portland, Penn helped the team pare a bloated payroll while remaining competitive but shedding their "JailBlazers" image. Penn also has some experience as a player agent.