With Jameer Nelson Injured, Orlando Magic Search for Replacement
When Jameer Nelson staggered to the locker room grabbing his shoulder on Monday night, everyone watching knew right away that the injury was serious. In the locker room, trainers diagnosed his injury as a dislocated shoulder and Nelson was in obvious pain, still in the same position as when he left the court.
On Tuesday, an MRI revealed that Nelson has a torn labrum in his right shoulder. If he undergoes surgery, he'll be out for the remainder of the season. If he opts for rehab and waits for the offseason to go under the knife, he'll still ride the pine for several weeks.
First of all, this is terrible timing. Nelson, who was just selected to his first All-Star game, was playing the best basketball of his career and nothing was going wrong for the point guard.
His shot was falling, he was weeks away from a busy All-Star weekend that included competing in the Skills Competition, playing in the game, and a cameo with Dwight Howard in the Dunk Contest, and was leading the Magic to their best start in franchise history.
While Nelson's impact cannot be replaced, the Magic will shop around and try to bring in some help for the team's only reserve point guard, Anthony Johnson. Stan Van Gundy has said that Hedo Turkoglu and Courtney Lee will spend some time running the offense, but Orlando will also look into signing or trading someone as an insurance policy.
"It's a matter of making the best deal that's available for us," says Orlando Magic general manager Otis Smith. "Whether it's to find a free agent that's available or to do it through a trade, we are actively (considering options) and have been since last night."
In an Orlando Sentinel article published Tuesday, several options including Eddie Gill, Raymond Felton, Earl Watson, and Shaun Livingston were mentioned. While those are all possibilities, here are some other options for the Magic.
Jason Williams | Free Agent
Despite the fact that Jason Williams retired in September of last year, rumor has it he wouldn't mind returning to the hardwood. In Miami, Williams played under Van Gundy and filled his role well during the team's championship run in 2005. While nobody is quite sure what type of shape he is in, it couldn't hurt to bring him in for a workout.
The 10-year NBA veteran would provide depth and experience at the point guard position for Orlando during Nelson's absence. And his familiarity with Van Gundy's style of play along with the fact that he lives in Orlando, makes him a strong candidate to fill the Magic's back court needs.
Andre Miller | Philadelphia 76ers
Each year around this time, Andre Miller's name gets brought up in trade rumors. With the trade deadline nearing, the most recent team seeking Miller's services is said to be the Portland Trailblazers. If the Sixers are talking with the Blazers, then Otis Smith ought to give Ed Stefanski a call as well.
Miller, like Williams, is an experienced, nine-year veteran who knows his role on a team.
But Miller is still playing excellent basketball at this point in his career and it will cost some pieces to pry him away from Philadelphia.
Orlando is deepest at the shooting guard position with Mickael Pietrus, Courtney Lee, Keith Bogans, and JJ Redick, so expect either Bogans or Redick to be included in any deal. The Magic could also offer picks or the expiring contract of either Brian Cook or Tony Battie (in which case other players would likely be involved).
This season, Miller is averaging 16 points per game, 6.3 assists per game, 1.3 steals per game and 4.3 rebounds per game and there wouldn't be as huge of a drop off if Orlando were to bring him in as their new starter.
Earl Boykins | Virtus Bologna, Italy
Like Nenad Krstic, who returned from overseas to join the Oklahoma City Thunder earlier this season, Earl Boykins' contract was terminated by his overseas club about a month ago.
Boykins has since returned to the team but he would likely welcome a spot back on an NBA squad. Boykins, who played one game in Orlando during the 1999 season, has career averages of 9.4 points per game and 3.4 assists per game.
Throughout his career, he has been a good scorer and three-point shooter, a quality that is important in Orlando's offense. His playoff averages are also exceptional for a player coming off of the bench and he could provide a spark for the Magic during both the regular season as well as the playoffs.
Kirk Hinrich | Chicago Bulls
Another player who is no stranger to trade rumors, Kirk Hinrich, seems to be the odd man out in Chicago. After the Bulls used their first overall pick to select point guard Derrick Rose, many wondered what would be done with the five-year veteran.
He started the year coming off of the bench and missed much of November and December due to injury. Since returning in January, he has continued coming off of the bench starting only one game this season.
Hinrich is still a very capable starter and can produce when given minutes, as evidenced by his impressive numbers as a starter.
Chicago is a young team who could use the picks and expiring contracts that Orlando has to offer. On most teams, Hinrich would be starting and if the Magic can add him, they'll be acquiring a capable scorer and talented floor general.
We'll find out what Otis Smith has in mind in the next couple of days and as news continues to leak, I'll keep everyone updated.
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