As Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported Sunday, Nicholson has agreed to terms with the Washington Wizards, a Southeast Division rival of Orlando's. Nicholson himself tweeted he's "blessed and honored" to join the Wizards.
Magic general manager Rob Hennigan made Nicholson his first-ever NBA Draft choice, picking him 19th overall in 2012. Nicholson, a four-year star at St. Bonaventure, rewarded Hennigan's faith in him by putting together a solid rookie campaign, tallying 7.8 points and 3.4 rebounds per game off the bench while displaying a sophisticated array of low-post moves. At 23, he looked to be part of whatever core Hennigan hoped to establish in the post-Dwight Howard rebuilding effort.
But then Nicholson's performance cratered over his next two seasons, for reasons that aren't exactly clear, at least among Orlando fans. Jacque Vaughn, then the Magic's coach, tried to turn Nicholson into a corner three-shooting stretch big, with poor results. Nicholson connected on just 31.5 percent of his three-pointers over his second and third pro seasons, and his touch inside the arc faltered as well, dipping to just 46.3 percent. The Mississauga, Ontario native looked adrift at both ends of the floor, and he quickly fell out of favor with Vaughn.
Nicholson bounced back solidly in his fourth season, his first under Scott Skiles, but his improved shooting and scoring numbers weren't enough to convince the Magic to keep him around. Orlando, fresh off acquiring Serge Ibaka, allowed him to become an unrestricted free agent.
There's little doubt that Nicholson has something to contribute at the NBA level, and if his most recent performance carries over to Washington, the Wizards will have a solid bargain on their hands. But it's also easy to understand, given his rocky two middle seasons and the Magic's newfound glut of big-man options, why Orlando might balk at wanting him back.
Orlando's other free agents are Brandon Jennings and Jason Smith, who are unrestricted; and Dewayne Dedmon, who is restricted. It appears extremely unlikely that any member of that trio will return to the Magic. Although Dedmon is restricted, Orlando's high-dollar signing of Bismack Biyombo and the trade for Ibaka would seem to leave very little playing time, not to mention money, for the undrafted free agent Hennigan signed to a 10-day deal in February 2014.