Kim Klement/USA TODAY
Jameer Nelson probably does not feel like a proud father after Victor Oladipo turned in his first career triple double Tuesday against the Philadelphia 76ers. The Magic locker room is still a very professional environment. Guys do their job.
Oladipo's emergence on the floor though is something that Oladipo, at least, can attribute somewhat to the Magic's veteran point guard. That is the job Rob Hennigan and Jacque Vaughn want Nelson to accomplish. It is the job Jameer certainly knew he would have to perform when he signed a three-year $25 million deal at the front door of a rebuilding era for the Magic.
Nelson, because of his partially guaranteed contract for next year, has quickly become the hottest name on the Magic's trade radar. And with Oladipo apparently being groomed as his eventual long-term replacement, Nelson's future with the Magic is growing shorter.
The people of Philadelphia know all about Nelson. They saw him grow up in Chester, Pa., and then at St. Joseph's where he led the Hawks to an undefeated regular season and a NCAA Tournament Regional Semifinal appearance as a senior with Delonte West.
This is a different phase of his career and Orlando has become a second home. Staying in Orlando was as much about staying home as it was becoming a leader, he told Dick Jerardi of the Philadelphia Daily News. The future is the only part that nobody knows when it comes to Nelson:
My loyalty is here in Orlando. I don't know what they feel like they are going to do with me, whether they want to move me or continue to have me here. Me personally, I would like to stay.
My life outside of basketball is more important to me than basketball, always has been,'' Nelson said. "Basketball is something I was blessed with and something that allowed me to take care of my family.
Nelson has had his struggles this year. He is averaging 11.3 points per game on a career-worst 37.3 percent field goal shooting. Last year was his first season shooting worse than 40 percent from the floor. Some of that might be wear and tear catching up to him (although he is ONLY 31) and some of that might be the increased attention and pressure to perform in his new role with this young Magic team.
Nelson's impact is mostly off the floor right now. He is a leader and a mentor for the young players on the franchise. So his stats probably are not important. Only if you are looking at his trade value, that is.
That part of the season will be coming in the next few months. Nelson is nursing a sprained foot and there is no telling when he will return to the lineup. That has opened time for Oladipo. The Magic are happy about that.
And if Nelson can stay in his ear and teach him from the sideline, all the better. That would be Nelson fulfilling his ultimate role for the Magic this season.
Nelson though means a lot to the organization from a spiritual standpoint. He is the one who stayed. He is the one who truly embraced Orlando as a home for himself and his family the last 10 years. That is a hard tie to break. It was hard for Nelson when he became a free agent and as the Magic likely overpaid to keep him.
Uprooting a family is hard to do. Nelson's roots are firmly placed in Orlando even if his basketball future is not.