What good is an aging veteran on a plummeting team? That is exactly what Jameer Nelson has become for the Orlando Magic.
Nelson was once the perfect counterpart and crunch-time performer alongside great Magic teams built around Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu, but those days are long gone.
Now? He is simply a roadblock and a symbol of what once was.
Currently laying claim to the second-worst record in the NBA at 12-33, all preseason optimism has been kicked to the curb. This is another lost season filled with significant injuries and underperformance from some young players.
All things considered, it is time for the wily 10-year Magic veteran to be shipped out.
Nelson's Trade Value has Never Been Higher
After a putrid start to his 2013-14 campaign, Nelson has turned it around and posted some of the better numbers of his career of late.
During the month of January, Nelson has averaged 15.7 points and 7.9 assists while shooting above 38 percent from three-point range for a second consecutive month.
Nelson is signed through next season for another $8 million in his walk year. The catch is that his contract only guarantees him $2 million for next year. All that does is increase his trade value as any team can bring in a proven veteran point guard for a bargain price.
Not only does Orlando have his increased production and his contract as big bargaining chips, but the fact that point guards around the league are dropping like flies only helps them more.
Many aspiring playoff teams would greatly benefit from Nelson's services. Teams like Oklahoma City, Phoenix, Chicago and even the Knicks are all thin at point guard either due to injuries or obesity (sorry, Raymond Felton).
Victor Oladipo is the Man
This is what Victor Oladipo thinks of the notion that he cannot play point guard.
The rookie No. 2 overall pick has really started to come into his own in recent weeks when Arron Afflalo was out with his injury. He has scored in double digits in 12 of his past 13 games and is starting to shoot more efficiently while also taking care of the ball.
It is somewhat remarkable how quickly Oladipo has already begun to adjust to the speed of the NBA game. Oladipo had four games of over seven turnovers in the opening month. In January, he only did that once and it was in a double-OT game where he logged an exhausting 57 minutes.
Overall, his turnovers have been under three per game during the months of December and January, while he was up over four during October and November.
His accelerated level of development should give Orlando even more confidence that Oladipo is ready to handle more of the point guard load. Keeping Nelson around early on to help Oladipo get his feet wet proved to be a wise idea but now the mentor is just impeding Oladipo's progress.
Nelson is loved in Orlando but it is time to pass the torch.
This Team is Going Nowhere
This last point is so obvious but it cannot be overlooked or underemphasized.
Orlando has the second-worst record in basketball and has lost 13 of its last 15 games. No sort of turnaround is going to right this ship in the second half of the season.
Any ideas of "tanking" don't even need to be addressed because Orlando is trying to win games, it just can't. It doesn't help that Afflalo, Nikola Vucevic, Tobias Harris and Glen Davis have not seen the court together. All four have been in and out with various injuries.
At this point, there is nothing positive that comes from Nelson being on the roster. Oladipo has started to get the hang of the point guard position and any questions he may have surely can be addressed by head coach Jacque Vaughn, a solid former point guard in his own right.
It feels as if Nelson is being held onto as the last semblance of former great Magic teams. He is 31 and will surely not be around to see the next great Magic team. Both parties would greatly benefit from a mutual parting.