Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel reported that the Orlando Magic are “comfortable” retaining Jameer Nelson beyond the NBA trade deadline. Behind Arron Afflalo, Nelson is the only other Orlando Magic veteran who has any trade value at all. While this move might disappoint fans hoping for an Orlando Magic trade rumor, it is in the best interest of the team’s development this year and down the road.
Jameer Nelson would have value has the first guard off the bench for a variety of playoff teams this season. With the Magic guaranteed to miss the playoffs, there seems to be little reason to keep him. That line of thinking underestimates what a good point guard can do for his teammates.
Nelson will never be confused for an elite point guard, but is steady, calm, and consistent. His most valuable trait is that he puts his teammates in a position to succeed. With the veteran point guard on the roster, the Magic’s young players are enabled to play within themselves and grow. Nelson is like a coach on the floor, helping his teammates look good, and more importantly preventing them from developing bad habits.
Really the only reason the Orlando Magic should consider trading Jameer Nelson is if they’re afraid they will be too good towards the end of the season. This team has underperformed partly because they’ve never been 100% healthy until now. With a full contingent of players, they may accidentally outperform the other thanking teams, and miss out on elite draft pick. Orlando is generally a disaster when Victor Oladipo runs point against the other team starting lineup. That strategy can help them lose games, but at what cost?
Keeping Nelson also doesn’t hurt their long-term plans. This is a team that should be contending for a lower playoff seed next season. Having Jameer around will help with that. If the team decides it needs to go a different direction this off-season, Nelson does not represent a prohibitive contract. His $8 million salary next season in the last year of his deal is reasonable, but if they need to clear cap space, they can cut him before July and only pay $2 million of that contract.
Nelson will not command a first round draft pick or young prospect in any trade scenario. With so many tanking teams this is a buyers market. Keeping him to help Oladipo develop is worth more than anything they can hope to get back in a deal. He’s a veteran leader who has been to an NBA finals. That experience is invaluable to a young team.
What do you think? Should the Orlando Magic trade Jameer Nelson? Let us know in the comments section below.