Orlando Magic PG Jameer Nelson was having an All-Star season averaging 16.7 points, 5.4 assists and 3.5 rebounds a game, but it all ended on February 2rd when he injured his shoulder in a game against the Mavericks.
Fast forward 4 months later and the Orlando Magic are in the NBA Finals and they made it there without Nelson. The acquisition of Rafer Alston has somewhat filled the void, but who knows how good the Magic may be if Nelson was still in the lineup.
Even though bringing Nelson back would potentially interfere with the team’s chemistry, GM Otis Smith is yet considering the possibility of a Nelson return for the finals.
Why would the Magic even consider bringing Nelson back at this point? Not because they can’t win without him because they have proven that they can, but because they believe their chances of defeating the Lakers are better with him in the lineup. During the regular season the Magic were 2-0 against the Lakers, Nelson played in both games and averaged 27.5ppg.
Even though he’s been cleared by Magic doctors, inserting him into the lineup, at this point in the season, will make the Magic appear shaken, scared or unprepared to face the ‘Mighty Lakers’ without him. I believe in loyalty, but the NBA Finals is not the time display it. I empathize with Nelson, NBA players know that’s there is no guarantee that you’ll make back to the finals, so naturally he wants to play, but if he does play the Magic will lose, and lose big.