Jameer Nelson and the Magic reach deal in principle on a new contract

BasketballSportsOrlando MagicJameer NelsonDwight HowardCharlotte BobcatsNBA

For months, Jameer Nelson said he wanted to return to the Orlando Magic. In recent days, new Magic general manager Rob Hennigan said he wanted Nelson back.

They meant what they said.

On Thursday, Nelson told the Orlando Sentinel, and later repeated over Twitter, that he and the Magic have agreed in principle to a new contract. Although Nelson and team officials would not discuss details, the new deal will run three seasons.

“I was prepared to go where I needed to go to continue my career, and I think I kind of expressed that to the organization," Nelson said. "But I also told them that I would love to come back.

“Genuinely, I love the city. I love the organization. I’ve learned a lot from the people in the organization. The DeVos family means a lot to myself and my family, and it means a lot to me that they always put out a winning product.”

And it appears the Magic will retain another key member of their backcourt.

Yahoo! Sports reported — and the Sentinel confirmed — that the Magic are not planning to waive shooting guard J.J. Redick before 11:59 Sunday night.

If the team waives Redick before then, his entire salary of about $6.1 million for the upcoming season would be erased from the books and the team would not owe him a single penny. If the Magic keep him, as expected, his entire salary would become fully guaranteed.

The decisions to keep Nelson, 30, and Redick, 28, might have a broader implication for the franchise.

With All-NBA center Dwight Howard highly likely to be traded before the season begins, the Magic are on course for some level of rebuilding.

But how significant will that rebuilding project be?

At the moment, the Magic don’t seem inclined to completely tear down their roster and start from scratch.

Some rebuilding NBA teams completely recast their rosters with cheaper, lower-quality talent, because that route can provide the quickest, most thorough way to assemble a winner. The more a team loses, the better its chances are of winning a top pick in the draft lottery. The better the pick in the draft, the likelier a team is to obtain a future star.

The miserly Charlotte Bobcats are the most extreme example of this mentality. They posted a 7-59 record this past season and won the second overall pick in the lottery.

Still, it’s too early to form a definitive judgment about the Magic’s strategy.

Other moves must be made first.

Because the NBA is in the middle of its annual moratorium period on most player transactions, Nelson cannot sign his new contract until this upcoming Wednesday.

Nelson has played his entire eight-year professional career for the Magic, and he wants to end his career with the franchise.

As recently as late last week, he acknowledged that he might have to go to another team in order to receive a multiyear contract at salaries he thinks are fair.

It’s unclear just how much interest he generated in the free-agent market, but on Thursday, he sounded ecstatic that he and the Magic have reached a deal.

“I wanted to sign a contract for 200 years, but I don’t think I’ll be able to,” he joked.

“The city of Orlando is great. The fans are great. They’ve embraced me and watched me grow as a professional. Just the support I was getting basically showed me that the fans want me back. There’s probably one or two that don’t want me back, but I think the rest want me back.”

jbrobbins@tribune.com. Read his blog at OrlandoSentinel.com/magicblog. Subscribe to our Orlando Magic newsletter at OrlandoSentinel.com/joinus.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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BasketballSportsOrlando MagicJameer NelsonDwight HowardCharlotte BobcatsNBA
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