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The Rockets will have a comprehensive list of coaches to view whenever the season ends. Bickerstaff, who remains in good standing with management, will be part of that conversation. Alexander and Morey believe that Harden will play a role in helping to hire a coach and potentially sign free agents. Howard is not expected to have a role. It’s expected that he will become a free agent and seek a new team. Orlando, Milwaukee, Portland and Charlotte are the favorites.
Storyline: Dwight Howard Free Agency
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Head coach Scott Skiles, someone who played in the NBA for 10 years and mentored younger players for much of them, feels that if the team had a couple of more experienced veterans it might have been able to stabilize itself during the season’s most pivotal stretch. “We’ve got to get tougher,’’ Skiles said. “We can’t let a two- or three-game skid turn into what it did. We’ve got to be mentally tougher and some of that does come from being more mature.’’
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While the Magic are hoping for another summer of growth from Aaron Gordon (20 years old), Mario Hezonja (20), Elfrid Payton (22), Victor Oladipo (23) and Fournier (23), GM Rob Hennigan and Skiles agree that the team needs to add some veteran leadership over the summer via free agency and trades. Orlando dealt its most experienced player, Channing Frye, to the Cleveland Cavaliers in February – a move designed to create more salary cap space when the free-agent courting process begins on July 1.
“We feel like we need to add experience to the team and that’s something that I’ve said throughout the season,’’ Hennigan said. “It’s something as the season played out we’ve been able to pinpoint that we do need some of that experience to stabilize us. Part of our strategy as we move into the summer is to pinpoint Plan As, Plan Bs and certain contingencies – all within the vain of trying to bring in experience to the team. We think that with the nucleus that we have, with a few veteran pieces that we’ll be well-positioned for the postseason.’’