Jun 30, 2014, 5:59 PM EDT
Nelson was drafted in 2004, the same year Orlando took Dwight Howard No. 1. Together, they helped the Magic rise into an Eastern Conference power, and Nelson remained long after Howard forced his way out of town.
But now Nelson is also leaving the rebuilding Magic. In No. 12 pick Elfrid Payton, Orlando has its point guard of the future.
Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:
Just $2 million of Nelson’s $8 million 2014-15 salary was guaranteed, and the contract didn’t become totally guaranteed until July 16.
The Magic made the rational decision Nelson was no longer needed at that price, clearly. But I don’t understand why the Magic waived him now as opposed to waiting closer to the deadline.
Maybe it was a courtesy to allow him more options in free agency. If that were Orlando general manager Rob Hennigan’s rationale, he was being mighty generous. Nelson is likely the type teams sign after they fill most of their roster.
When the Magic sold so low on Arron Afflalo, Hennigan got a pass, because he reportedly canvassed the entire league in search of a better offer before agreeing to that deal with the Nuggets. But maybe we shouldn’t keep giving him the benefit of the doubt.
I believe Hennigan explored Nelson trades, using his contract to offer cap savings, as the Raptors did with John Salmons. So, if Hennigan couldn’t find an acceptable deal, there’s nothing wrong with waiving Nelson.
But July 16 is a long way off, and circumstances can change quickly. Quite possibly, a team could have offered a desirable trade necessitating Nelson’s contract before then.
Again, this might all fall under professional courtesy, and that’s a nice gesture if that’s the case. It’s also squandering an asset, though.
For Nelson, options in free agency will definitely emerge.
The Heat need a point guard with Mario Chalmers a free agent. Neither Norris Cole nor Shabazz Napier is good enough stay the course without trying to upgrade. Nelson’s best days are behind him, but he could definitely help a win-now team like Miami. Plus, the Heat would offer him a chance to stay in Florida.
Maybe Nelson reunites with Stan Van Gundy in Detroit. The Pistons could definitely use a more reliable point guard than Brandon Jennings, even if that’s just to pressure Jennings into steadying himself. Nelson would definitely increases Detroit’s chances of starting a better point guard, whether it’s him or Jennings, than last year. However, with Will Bynum – an OK enough backup – already contract, the Pistons might need to use their cap room on areas of greater need (wing positions).
I could also see Nelson landing with the Knicks. A quality outside shooter who’s not blazing quick, Nelson would fit well in the triangle. Jose Calderon, acquired in the Tyson Chandler trade, is a good fit, but there would be enough minutes for both.
Really, if Nelson were willing to become a backup – and he likely must – he’ll have plenty of suitors.
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