And then in a blink his season appears to be over.
Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel asked Jacque Vaughn following Wednesday's loss to the Knicks whether Al Harrington's troublesome injury kept him out of the game. After all, Harrington had spent time this season as the team's backup center and Nikola Vucevic missed the game with an illness.
Vaughn told the assembled media that it was a coach's decision that has seen Harrington go to the bench the last three games.
It’s really nothing to do with his knees.
It’s a coach’s decision. I’ve talked to Al just about the remaining games that we have. He’s helped us in the wins at Philly and New Orleans. He’s proven that he can still play this game at a high level, and I’m going to give the opportunity to play to some of our young guys and give them some experience. I think he has experience at this game a little bit already.
It definitely is understandable that Vaughn and the Magic want to get young players like Andrew Nicholson and Kyle O'Quinn more playing time as the season winds down. This whole season has been about in many ways about getting young players experience and mix them in with the veterans.
Undoubtedly, Harrington has contributed in the 10 games he has played this season. His 5.1 points per game really do not display his impact that much. He was key in hitting shots that sparked wins against Philadelphia and New Orleans. He did indeed contribute to Magic wins.
However, Vaughn is also right that he needs to give Nikola Vucevic, Tobias Harris, Andrew Nicholson and Kyle O'Quinn the opportunity to put their work in practice to good use in games so they can learn and help the organization moving forward.
As Vaughn noted, Harrington has shown he can still play. The Magic likely hope it was enough to convince someone to make a reach and trade for him this offseason. His two remaining years on his contract are only partially guaranteed.
If Harrington is not likely to see the floor again for the Magic, he really has been a true professional for this team, working to get back from his injury and showing himself and the league he can still play.