MBO Roundtable: Jameer Nelson’s Orlando Exit
Jameer Nelson‘s departure from the Orlando Magic is kind of an important topic in the City Beautiful, so members of the ‘MBO’ crew quickly assembled to break down the departure of one of the more beloved Magic members in the franchise’s history. Involved in the discussion are Brian Serra, Andrew Melnick, Adam Papageorgiou, Preston Raulerson, and new MBO contributor Spenser Strode. Mentioned in the discussion: ‘Mount Rushmore’, Jameer’s best moments, the 2009 NBA Finals, and more. Let’s dive in.
Was is time for Jameer to go? How might have you handled the situation differently considering Nelson may have possibly been dealt over the past 2 years?
Andrew Melnick: The Magic would have liked to have received an asset and almost assuredly tried, but just couldn’t. I think it was good for Victor Oladipo to play with a professional like that for a year. The Magic gave up a lot to draft Elfrid Payton so they need to officially make Oladipo and Payton their starting back court, meaning it was time for Nelson to go.
Brian Serra: The answer here is that it’s 3-4 years past the point where Jameer needed to go. Unfortunately, at that time there wasn’t an opportunity to upgrade – or if there was, the GM in charge didn’t have the wherewithal to upgrade the position.
Preston Raulerson: It was definitely time for Jameer to go, and I am okay with how they handled it. It was a consideration ever since he signed that last contract – I think we all knew that it was going to end in either a trade or waive this year. I am glad that we went out the right way instead of dangling him all through free agency, and the tributes on the website and the side of Amway were classy.
Spenser Strode: From a fan perspective, it’s a tough pill to swallow when you feel that a player’s loyalty to a team is not matched by that team’s loyalty to the player. But, the time is right for the Magic to move forward and fully commit to the youth movement in the backcourt by clearing a spot for its #10 overall draft pick Elfrid Payton. In the end, this move is mutually beneficial for both the Magic and Jameer moving forward as he has a chance to pick his own destination and play meaningful basketball again.
Adam Papageorgiou: If Rob Hennigan would have received an ideal trade offer for Jameer last summer or this past trade deadline, he would have pulled the trigger. It ended up working out really well for Oladipo who learned a lot about the point guard position from ‘Meer. These past two years were really rough on Jameer. You could see it in his lack of defending. These past few years for Jameer have been mostly about moving up the franchise’s statistical records lists. You can’t compete with a 5′ 10″ starting point guard who is 32 years old. Nelson will benefit from a change of scenery just as much as the Magic will benefit from clearing extra cap space and handing the ball handling reins to the youth.
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Jameer’s name is all over Orlando’s record books, where do you rank Nelson among important Magic figures in franchise history? Top 10? Is he on your Mount Rushmore?
Andrew Melnick: Nelson was an extremely important figure. He helped turn the team around after the Tracy McGrady disaster and guided them through two tough seasons. I’d put him just outside the top 5.
Brian Serra: Top 10. Solely for a matter of longevity and being able to survive as a starter on a team that has only been able to keep one other starter around for 10+ years in the franchise history. Overall, Nelson is an extremely overrated player. Outside of his 42 games during the 2009 All-Star season, he has been a replacement level starter for the majority of the time. However, he played hard and bucked the odds that a player of his stature couldn’t make it. Fans are an emotional bunch (see, “fanatic”) and understandably had a soft spot for the guy that gave it his all on the court. He doesn’t have to pay the admission to see Mt. Rushmore, but he is far from being chiseled.
Preston Raulerson: Easily top 10 in my book. There are two measurements there – what they mean, and what they produced. Jameer means so much to the Magic franchise because of his presence and 10-year commitment. He was a key piece for the last “rebirth” of the Magic that started in 2004. He didn’t impact the game on the court like the other guys in that top 10 did, which is what keeps him off a Mt. Rushmore for me, but his overall importance to the franchise can’t be missed.
Spenser Strode: Clearly he’s in the Top-10 based on longevity alone. While arguably never the best player on the team during any given season, Nelson always had the ability to be the best player on the floor on any given night. I wouldn’t put Nelson on my Mount Rushmore of Magicians but his mix of on-court accomplishments and off-court accountability puts him squarely behind Shaquille O’Neal, Dwight Howard, McGrady, Nick Anderson and Anfernee Hardaway.
Adam Papageorgiou: Barely makes my Top 10, but he’s in there mostly due to longevity. Jameer was only a top 5 point guard in the league during the ’08-’09 regular season. Then the shoulder injury came and he never reached that caliber of play again. Nelson went from the best player in college, to sliding to 20th in the ’04 Draft, to being Steve Francis‘ backup, to winning the starting spot, to fending off Carlos Arroyo, to claiming the spot again, getting hurt in ’09, to watching Rafer Alston become a god for 4 months, to finally reclaiming the starting PG spot again for the past 4 years. Jameer was never spectacular, but he’s a wonderful underdog story and someone who is loved in the Orlando community for reasons not involving basketball.
Is the 2009 NBA Finals going to be what Jameer is most remembered for by Magic fans, or has he done enough in his career for Orlando to not define him by it?
Andrew Melnick: Unfortunately, I think that is what Nelson will be remembered for nationally. Big-time Magic fans will likely remember his all-star appearance and all he did for the community instead.
Brian Serra: This is where Jameer is lucky. Fortunately for him, Magic fans have many very good reasons to be jaded. Jameer’s 2009 Finals return is low on the list, probably even below the Courtney Lee miss in the same Finals. Jameer’s all-time stats in Orlando will ensure that he is talked about as one of the franchise’s best players of all time – regardless of the reality of his true contribution to their success in his time with the team. Jameer also was active enough in the community to be seen as a leader on and off the court and long-term that will matter most.
Preston Raulerson: I love the guy, and probably more than most. I am going to remember him coming back in the 2009 Finals and fighting through a pain that I think made him worse than Rafer. I hate saying that when you have a guy that has been a part of so much good for this franchise, but some things you can’t control.
Spenser Strode: Casual fans may remember Jameer for messing up Alston’s vibe and trying to fix something that wasn’t broken during the Magic’s playoff run. However, he only played 18 minutes a game in the Finals and his numbers weren’t all that different than what Anthony Johnson provided in relief. When I think of 2009 and Jameer Nelson, I remember his incredible first half of the season, the unfortunate injury caused by Erick Dampier and how hard he worked to try and rehab himself; not the poor Finals performance or missed closeout on Derek Fisher in transition in Game 4 (ok, I remember that a little bit). The rest of his Magic career clearly overshadows 5 sub-par games.
Adam Papageorgiou: Nationally, yeah. Locally, I think the casual fans have already forgotten the intricate details of how the team lost in the ’09 Finals. It wasn’t all Jameer’s fault, but I feel him being re-inserted into the rotation really messed with Rafer’s head. I’m going to have Fisher draining that 3-pointer over Jameer in Game 4 in my nightmare rotation probably forever. Die hard fans have had a roller coaster love-hate affair with Nelson his entire career. At the end of the day though, Jameer’s done enough correctly to overshadow one single period of time.
What’s your favorite Jameer Nelson moment?
Andrew Melnick: Recently, it has to be the big balls dance, his performance at the Lakers in 2012 or his game-winner against the Nuggets. His performances against the Lakers in the 2008-2009 regular season also really stand out.
Brian Serra: I’ll go with a recent one… his 15K fine for his “obscene gesture” after hitting a huge shot. BIG BALLS DANCE
Preston Raulerson: The Sam Cassell Big Balls dance is up there. Hard to top that. The Paul Pierce broken ankle cross-over is great though, but I needed him to finish the shot in order to make it number 1.
Spenser Strode: I’m going to cop-out because my favorite Jameer moment is a three-way tie, and two aren’t moments at all. The best Nelson moment is his 2011 game-winning buzzer-beater over Ty Lawson to beat the Nuggets at home in the Amway Center. But my favorite Jameer Nelson memories are the way he torched Raymond Felton and Mike Bibby in the first two rounds of the 2010 playoffs to help the Magic sweep both teams and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals, and the way he handled himself and handled the team in the wake of the Dwightmare situation. Bonus points for organizing the ‘Building Magic’ team retreats at his own expense as well. The Magic couldn’t have asked for a better leader.
Adam Papageorgiou: I could pick out one of his games in the 2010 first round against the Charlotte Bobcats, but I’ll go much further back. February 9, 2007. People remember it for Dwight’s game-winning dunk. It was Jameer’s and Howard’s third seasons in the league. That game proved to me that those two guys could take the Magic to new heights. Jameer out-played Tony Parker that evening and the footage is an all-encompassing film of Jameer’s repertoire. Jumpers, steals, rebounds, drives, quick assists, alley oops, off-balanced pull-ups dropping in, clutch plays. It’s Jameer at his best and how I want to remember him on the court.
Adam Papageorgiou runs Orlando Magic Greek and is a proud MBO contributor.