GM Otis Smith to wait on Nelson's recovery, but won't totally rule out AI
Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel reports that Orlando Magic GM Otis Smith will be patient during Nelson's estimated four-to-six-week absence. Notably, Smith didn't appear opposed to the idea of signing Allen Iverson.
At the same time, when asked by the Sentinel about the possibility of signing free agent point guard Allen Iverson, Smith didn't reject the idea out of hand. He has usually shot down scenarios involving players who come with baggage or questionable character, citing team chemistry and how it might affect superstar Dwight Howard.
"It's hard to say. You have to evaluate it. But it has to make sense for your team," he said. "I just got the news (on Nelson) a few hours ago, so I can't rule out anything yet. You have to take a step back. That's how we've done things."
Asked specifically about Iverson --- who split with the Memphis Grizzlies recently --- he said, "He's still out there, isn't he?"
The Return of Jason Williams
Henry Abbott of TrueHoop writes that Nelson's absence will allow Jason Williams to enter the spotlight, which he hasn't done in several years.
Williams returned to the NBA, as a Magic player, this fall. Today, as Orlando's starting guard, Jameer Nelson, is set to miss four to six weeks after surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee, Williams is suddenly coach Stan Van Gundy's best option -- ahead of Anthony Johnson, who has played just 25 minutes all year -- to start at point guard.
In about 200 minutes of action this season, Williams has shown improved shooting (his true shooting percentage and 3-point shooting percentage are close to career bests). He is also showing a point guard's selflessness -- his assist rate is higher than it ever was in Miami, while his usage rate -- the rate at which he ends plays himself -- is at an all-time low. And despite all that, he has maintained just enough pizazz to already be the star in some highlight reels from his time in Orlando.
He's famous as one of the NBA's best ball-handlers, but the measure of his success, on this team -- the team that played the NBA's best defense last year -- will come when his team does not have the ball. On Nelson's watch, opposing point guards have been pretty good against the Magic this season. There are early season hints the team may be able to play decent defense when Williams takes his place.
Magic PG Nelson out 4-to-6 Weeks
Benson Taylor of The Sporting News writes that the Magic will have an opportunity to play their bench more often with Nelson out, which could pay dividends in the playoffs.
While in Charlotte last week, [Rashard] Lewis commented that perhaps the one positive of the starters being out of the lineup this time of year is that it gives the bench more playing time early in the season, which could be helpful down the road.
"It's going to help us deep into the season, when guys get banged up," Lewis told Sporting News last week. "Mostly in the playoffs. And when the starters are tired and we're not into the game that night, we have just as good a bench that can come in and take over for the rest of the night."
Van Gundy Deals With Injuries
UPDATE (from Eddy): John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com notes how head coach Stan Van Gundy is dealing with the illnesses and the injuries.
No such trade is expected this time around. If Nelson misses four weeks, he will be out for 13 games and if his injury requires six weeks he will be unavailable for 19 games. Van Gundy said while there’s no good time for injuries, he would prefer them to come now rather than down the stretch as the Magic are preparing for the playoffs.The last part (about Vince Carter) echoes what I stated earlier today in my analysis of the repercussions of Jameer Nelson's injury.
``If Jameer needs the full six weeks, we’ll still have 52 games to play and that will be plenty of time for us to get going again,’’ Van Gundy said. ``We have a different team now, so I’m not sure the experience of being without Jameer last year will help us a lot. But for the returning guys there is probably a confidence level that we can be successful playing without Jameer.’’
Van Gundy said he also can use Carter, a shooting guard, at point guard late in games because he wants the ball in his hands while running pick-and-roll plays. That’s just the position the Magic are in now, Van Gundy said.