Jameer Nelson has until 11:59 p.m. on Friday to inform the Orlando Magic whether he’ll exercise his player option for the 2012-13 season.
Nelson might take every available minute to make that decision.
Nelson has played his entire NBA career with the Magic, and his strong preference is to remain with the team beyond the 2012-13 season.
Problem is, if he accepts his player option, he would become much more valuable on the trade market. Teams could seek to acquire him from the Magic in a trade because his salary of about $7.9 million would come off the books after the 2012-13 season. Nelson would not be able to block a trade.
Plus, Nelson is 30 years old now, and at his age, he could be facing his last opportunity to negotiate a multiyear deal. All things equal, it’s easier for a 30-year-old to receive a multiyear free-agent deal than it is for a 31-year-old player to receive a multiyear free-agent deal.
It appears that Nelson is prepared to decline his option if he cannot get an extension or some kind of commitment from the Magic.
Declining his option almost certainly would mean that he would have to accept less money for the 2012-13 season. But at the same time, he would be gaining more long-term security in the form of extra seasons. A multiyear deal also would make him less attractive trade bait.
New Magic general manager Rob Hennigan has spoken with Nelson and Nelson’s agent, Hennigan said Wednesday.
Hennigan said of Nelson: “He has a decision coming up on Friday, and we hope that he decides to stay in Orlando, and we hope he is wearing a Magic uniform next season.”
But what about the 2013-14 season and beyond?
Perhaps not even Nelson knows.
Publicly, Hennigan hasn’t given any specifics about his plans.
And he might be bringing that same measured tone to his discussions with players.
Much remains to be seen about the Magic’s direction. The roster could be headed for a total rebuild.
Tonight’s NBA draft should offer some clues.
If the Magic trade Dwight Howard tonight for a bunch of draft picks and one established player — and that’s a big “if” — that would be a clear sign that the team is looking to build from the bottom up.
Or if the Magic select a point guard in the first round — perhaps North Carolina’s Kendall Marshall or Kentucky’s Marquis Teague or Washington’sTony Wroten Jr. — that would be a sign that the franchise is looking to get much younger at the position.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times