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What to make of Jameer Nelson’s season

Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel reports that Jameer Nelson will not play tonight in the Magic's home finale against the Bulls. And with just one more game reamining, the sprained ankle he suffered on March 29 appears to have claimed the remainder of his season.

This is not so surprising since the Magic have devoted the latter half of this season to developing young players. If the Playoffs were still a possibility, it is likely that Arron Afflalo and Glen Davis would be working through their rehabs much quicker to try and contribute. That is obviously not the case.

So what do we make of Jameer Nelson's ninth season in the NBA?

Nelson was perhaps haunted somewhat by a three-year $25.2 million contract he signed in the offseason. After the Dwight Howard mess, the Magic opted for some continuity and kept the veteran point guard who has been part of the Magic organization for nearly a decade.

The move was motivated perhaps more by the desire to have a veteran leader on the roster and as a sign of some gratitude. Fans have shown support for Nelson for showing a desire to stay in Orlando through all the pain and issues that was the 2012 season. Those may not be great basketball reasons, but they were an important message the franchise wanted to send in one form or another.

The Magic have relied on his veteran leadership in helping young players like Maurice Harkless, Nikola Vucevic, Andrew Nicholson and Tobias Harris navigate the NBA season.

Brett Deering/Getty Images/Albany (N.Y.) Times UnionStatistically, Nelson averaged 14.7 points per game and 7.4 assists per game. His scoring numbers were his highest since that All Star year in 2009 and the assists were his highest for his career by nearly an assist and a half per game. That is what happens when a team turns over a starring role to a player. Someone has to step into the fold.

Nelson posted a 14.4 PER which is in line with his career averages. He posted a 33.3 percent assist rate and a 22.5 percent usage rate, all in line with his career averages. He shot a career-low 39.2 percent from the floor and 34.1 percent from beyond the arc.

It has been both a remarkable and an unremarkable season for Nelson.

It is still unclear where Nelson fits in with the Magic's future plans. At 31 years old at season's end, he does not fit the Magic's youth movement. However, his contract is friendly. The third year is believed to be only partially guaranteed which makes him moveable at next year's trade deadline or releaseable at the end of next year.

At the same time though, it seems wrong simply to discard a player who has spent 10 years with the organization and has meant so much to it as a leader on the team.

This year did little to answer the riddle that is Jameer Nelson. However, Nelson did some good things both on the court and in the locker room that the Magic could not go without.

Philip Rossman-Reich

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily

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