Experience is priority No. 1 for Rob Hennigan

Mar 4, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) and Orlando Magic guard C.J. Watson (32) go after the loose ball during the second half at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 4, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) and Orlando Magic guard C.J. Watson (32) go after the loose ball during the second half at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Rob Hennigan has a big task ahead of him in taking the Orlando Magic to the next step. Priority one for him is finding a veteran to supplement the team.

There has been about two weeks or so since the Orlando Magic’s season ended. The focus on this site has been turned to the past and what happened in the 2016 season. It was a season of missed opportunities and frustration. Of potential and promise unfulfilled.

Yes, the Magic improved by 10 games and can take some solace in that. But the goal was to make the Playoffs. And the Magic fell short of that goal.

When anyone falls short of their goals, you have to begin thinking about what you can do better. The Magic will be no different as they enter this offseason of uncertainty. There are plenty of options and plenty of ways to improve the team — their massive cap room will make them players in trades and free agency — but the Magic are determined to take a step forward.

Perhaps that means cashing in some chips and trading away supposed core players to bring in that start they lack. Perhaps it means adding a big free agent to the current core. Perhaps it means sticking with the current core and adding the right pieces.

In every facet, it seems the answer is obvious what the Magic have to do at a bare minimum. They have to add some veterans to the current core and group if they want to take any steps forward.

“We feel like we need to add experience to the team.” –Rob Hennigan

“We feel like we need to add experience to the team,” Rob Hennigan said during exit interviews after the season ended. “That’s something that I have said throughout the season. I think it is something that as the season has played out we have been able to pinpoint that we do need some of that experience to stabilize us.”

The Magic indeed were a young team. The average age on the team at the end of the season was 24.8 years old. And many of the key players are still on the younger end of that spectrum. This is a team still very much coming into its own.

And the team itself has experienced very little Playoff or regular season success. Evan Fournier and Nikola Vucevic are the only two “core” players that have been to the Playoffs at all. And they were largely bit players in those efforts as rookies.

Late in games this season and as the season seemed to be collapsing, it was clear Orlando did not quite know how to get itself out of the hole and right the ship. It was a frustration throughout the year that even the players recognized.

“We were inconsistent,” Nikola Vucevic said. “Some of it comes from the lack of experience. I think we do need some experience. That is obvious to everyone here that we lack that. We just need to be better. Everybody is going to try to say they won 35 after 25 last year. It’s good, but not good enough.”

There are good players on this team. Improving to 35 wins means the Magic are knocking on the door. They are close to making the Playoffs. They are missing that last little push.

Maybe it is simply experience. Maybe bringing back much of the same roster will be enough to push the roster over the top.

More likely, the team needs a little education from someone who has been there. It is important for a team to know what it does not know. And the team has not experienced success in any meaningful way. This season was a lot of crawling in the dark and relying on Scott Skiles‘ experience to push the team over.

That was clearly not enough too. A veteran voice can be very important.

“A guy like Vuc or myself or when Tobias [Harris] was here, we are starters, we have a lot of responsibility, but it’s hard to tell a young guy to do something when that’s only your fourth year,” Evan Fournier said. “You need more credit. If you want to have a voice that really impacts the locker room. You have to go through 8-10 seasons, went through playoffs. When it’s only your fifth year, you are still a young guy. It’s hard to explain to a young guy what to do.”

And that is the big task that Rob Hennigan has to do this summer.

Who that veteran presence he will bring in is still very unclear. There are some solid veteran leaders who could help supplement the roster on the free agent market. Players like Mike Conley, Deron Williams, Shaun Livingston, Courtney Lee, Vince Carter, Joe Johnson, Luol Deng, Al Horford or Joakim Noah would fit that bill in many ways. Whether the Magic are interested in those players, only Hennigan and his staff know at this point.

There will be opportunities for the Magic to add that veteran. It will be an integral part of their summer plans.

“Part of our strategy as we move into the summer is to pinpoint Plan As and Plan Bs and certain contingencies, but all within the vein of bringing more experience to the team,” Hennigan said. “We think with the youth that we have and a few veteran pieces we’ll be well positioned for the postseason.”

The Magic still have work to do and need some improvement from the roster itself too. Free agency will be focused as much on using the cap space to add more talent as it will for finding a good supplemental veteran to lead this team and impart some wisdom on this young team.