Southeast Notes: Pierce, Gooden, Harkless

The chance to continue mentoring John Wall and Bradley Beal may be enough to keep Paul Pierce in Washington, writes Dan Steinberg of The Washington Post. Pierce spoke highly about the young guards during a radio interview this week, fueling speculation that he may be willing to rejoin the Wizards for another season. Pierce had avoided public comment since the team’s season ended with a playoff loss to Atlanta, while rumors swirled that he was considering retirement or signing with the Clippers. Pierce has a player option for the 2015/16 season worth more than $5.5MM.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Changing teams is a familiar experience for the WizardsDrew Gooden, but the veteran forward would like to stay in Washington, according to Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post. Gooden, who has been with 10 teams during his NBA career, emerged as a valuable stretch four for the Wizards late in the season and during the playoffs. “I would love for it to be here but if it is not, this is a business and I can swallow that pill too,” Gooden said of his future. “So we will see what happens.” He made more than $1.4MM this season.
  • Maurice Harkless thinks new Magic coach Scott Skiles can help him reach his goal of making the All-Defensive Team, writes Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders. “With Scott Skiles coming in and his emphasis on defense, I definitely think he can teach me a lot and help develop me to be that guy,” Harkless said. “It’s definitely something I’m willing and able to do. I’m looking forward to working with him and learning from him.” Harkless started 59 games as a rookie, but his playing time decreased in each of the past two seasons. He can become a restricted free agent in the summer of 2016.
  • Skiles will need patience as he inherits a team with one of the youngest starting lineups in the NBA, according to Ken Hornack of Fox Sports Florida. The lone veteran starter, Channing Frye, was replaced late in the season by 19-year-old Aaron Gordon. “It’s exciting when you have an opportunity to work with young players because you can truly help them,” Skiles said. “And any teacher or coach, that’s when you feel the best about your profession, when you go home feeling like you’ve helped somebody.” 
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