Does Jameer Nelson have a future with the Orlando Magic?
The Magic’s draft-night trade to acquire Louisiana-Lafayette point guard Elfrid Payton seems to indicate that Nelson won’t have a long-term future with the team.
Payton appears all but certain to become the Magic’s point guard of the future. Although Payton might not be in Orlando’s starting lineup on Day One of his rookie season, the position will be Payton’s eventually, and probably sooner than later.
Nelson has one year left on the three-year contract he signed during the summer of 2012. But his contract is structured in such a way that it would help the Magic financially to waive him outright. If the Magic release him on or before July 15, the team will only pay him $2 million of his $8 million salary. In addition, other teams could want him in a trade in order to waive him and open additional salary-cap space.
Still, after Thursday’s moves, which included trading away veteran Arron Afflalo, the Magic have gotten much younger. The Magic probably would benefit from having Nelson around the younger players.
Nelson has been the prototypical loyal employee to the Magic throughout his 10-year tenure with the organization. He served as the crucial bridge from the end of the era of Dwight Howard, Stan Van Gundy and Otis Smith to the current era. His loyalty is respected by Magic fans; Nelson now receives the loudest cheers when the Magic’s starting lineup is announced at Amway Center.
Nelson has always said he and his family love Central Florida. He means it.
Still, the last two seasons must’ve taken a terrible toll on him.
The team posted a 20-62 record in 2012-13 and a 23-59 record last season. Although Payton and the fourth overall draft pick, Aaron Gordon, might become superb players in the long-term, the truth is that it’s unrealistic to expect the Magic to make a 180-degree turnaround in the season ahead. The franchise is at least several years away from contention if it doesn’t make an earth-shattering move to acquire one or two top-level players.
Nelson is 32 years old now.
He has said he wants to play until he’s 40, but the Magic’s timetable to become a contender doesn’t appear to match the window of any 32-year-old.
Josh Robbins covers the Orlando Magic and the NBA for the Orlando Sentinel. You can reach him via e-mail at email@example.com and connect with him on Facebook at facebook.com/JoshuaBRobbins. Follow him on Twitter at @JoshuaBRobbins.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun