Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said Thursday that the earliest PG Jameer Nelson could play would be next Wednesday against the Houston Rockets and likely practice on Sunday.
Nelson hasn't played since undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on Nov. 18.
Van Gundy said, "It just depends on how he looks. We'll have to see if he's up to speed," Van Gundy said. "He's got to go through a practice."
It's a testament to the Orlando Magic's depth that Jameer Nelson has rarely been mentioned during his absence, given that the team has gone 11-4 since he's been out. But it's clear, especially after last night's forgettable loss to the Miami Heat, that the Magic could use him back in the starting lineup.
All the credit in the world should be given to Jason Williams - ranked 6th in Pure Point Rating - and Anthony Johnson for holding down the fort while Nelson has been rehabbing his injury. Neither player is of Jameer's caliber but both came to play nearly every night for Orlando. Yes, there have been games where Williams just didn't have it for the evening but in almost each of those instances, Johnson gave the Magic much-needed production at point guard.
With Nelson set to return next week, Orlando will finally have a chance to play with a fully healthy roster for what many hope will be an extended period of time. Although Jameer hasn't been playing at the All-Star level he was performing at this past season, he is still the best point guard the Magic have. Likewise, head coach Stan Van Gundy knows that he has two reliable back-ups in Jason and Anthony. Unlike last year, Van Gundy will have the rare opportunity to play the matchups with his reserve point guards depending on the opponents. Or Stan has a chance to go with a different point guard when Williams or Johnson (or Nelson, too) isn't playing up to par. Options. It's something Van Gundy has in droves not only with his point guards but with every other position on the squad.
It'll be interesting to see if the Orlando Magic raises the level of its play a notch when Jameer gets back. It'll also be interesting to see if Nelson improves on his defense, which has been below-average this year.