Orlando Magic point guard Jameer Nelson told Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel on Thursday that he has yet to decide whether he'll use his player option to remain with the Magic for the 2012/13 season. Although he wants to finish his career in Orlando, Nelson said, "I’ll sit down with my team and my family at the end of the season and discuss what’s going on and what are the possibilities."
But according to separate reports from Andrew Melnick of ESPN Florida and Brian Serra of MagicBasketballOnline.com, Nelson is leaning heavily toward opting out of his contract, which is worth $7.8 million for the 2012/13 season, in order to become a free agent on July 1st, 2012.
"Sources have told ESPN Florida that Nelson will likely opt out of his contract," Melnick writes, "but the reasons why were not specified." According to Serra, citing sources, "Jameer is 'leaning heavily' to declining the player option."
Nelson has spent his entire eight-year career with the Magic, who acquired his draft rights from the Denver Nuggets after the Nuggets used the 20th overall selection in 2004 on the former St. Joseph's standout. He owns career averages of 12.4 points and five assists per game, and earned a selection the 2009 Eastern Conference All-Star team.
Opting out wouldn't necessarily mean the end of Nelson's days in Magic pinstripes, as he could simply choose to re-sign for more years at a lower annual dollar amount. Doing so would secure his long-term future with the Magic, give the team a bit more financial flexibility, and make him a less attractive trade chip; if he decided not to opt out, his $7.8 million expiring contract could prove valuable in a trade, and he would have no say in his potential destination.
Certainly this story merits our attention going forward, as Orlando's only other point guard signed to a multi-year contract is Chris Duhon. The Magic will have a resolution to the saga soon enough, as Nelson must inform the team of his decision within seven days of its season ending.