Cohen: What Would You Do If..

By Josh Cohen
October 17, 2012

ORLANDO -- As part of a new series, I pose a variety of scenarios and assess the situation with some analysis and ask you, the fans, to come to the best possible verdict.

WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF….You feel DeQuan Jones deserves to make the roster after impressing the coaches in the preseason and training camp and you don’t want to cut him. The roster has to be trimmed to a maximum of 15 players by the start of the regular season. Do you keep Jones despite being forced to scratch other more proven contenders or do you avoid the temptation and still cut Jones from the final roster?

Well, let’s get real simple to start. Here are the locks to make the roster, the likely, the unlikely and those that are on the fence:

LOCKS (10): Jameer Nelson, Arron Afflalo, Hedo Turkoglu, Glen Davis, Nikola Vucevic, Gustavo Ayon, J.J. Redick, Al Harrington, Maurice Harkless and Andrew Nicholson

LIKELY (3): Kyle O’Quinn, Quentin Richardson and E’Twaun Moore

UNLIKELY (2): Armon Johnson and Chris Johnson

ON THE FENCE (5): DeQuan Jones, Ish Smith, Josh McRoberts, Christian Eyenga and Justin Harper

If it is determined that Jones makes the roster – which remains no guarantee despite his inspiring play after four preseason games – it makes things very difficult for the Magic’s basketball operations staff.

If Vaughn decides it is imperative to carry three point guards on the roster, then Ish Smith, who re-signed with Orlando this past summer, would be assured to land back on the team. Smith is currently recovering from shoulder surgery and is expected back by mid-November.

Jones has been outstanding and his potential stood out Tuesday when he poured in 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting in Detroit and defended the Pistons’ wings, including Corey Maggette, exceptionally well.

His versatility and ability to play either the shooting guard or small forward positions is striking as well. Jones is extraordinarily athletic and explosive, can shoot it from long distance and can rebound effectively (nine boards against Cleveland).

Nobody thought when he was given a non-guaranteed contract right before training camp began that the University of Miami product had much of a chance to play a single regular season game for the Magic.

It’s very revealing, though, that the entire coaching staff thinks extremely highly of Jones considering he started both games on this recent road trip.

There are still a few games left in the exhibition schedule to decide whether to keep Jones around or avoid the enticement. If Jones does make the roster, however, and three point guards are a necessity, it may insinuate that it will be difficult for McRoberts, Eyenga and Harper -- the other three “on the fence” candidates all with guaranteed contracts for this season -- to remain with the team.

Jones has already become a fan favorite among Magic enthusiasts. His several spectacular slams – including one vs. Detroit – have become must-watch clips spread around Facebook and Twitter.

Let’s also consider, though, that Orlando already has four guys who can all play small forward (Turkoglu, Harkless, Harrington and Richardson) when completely healthy. And while Jones can play the shooting guard spot, he would inevitably play behind Afflalo and Redick.

The other candidates such as McRoberts and Harper can play the power forward spot, which is generally a more influential position when you weigh in foul trouble and guarding some of the elite fours in the league. Both McRoberts and Harper can stretch the floor with their ability to shoot it from distance and each is young enough to still develop.

This is not an easy decision and my best guess is that the final verdict won’t be made until shortly before Orlando’s regular season home opener against Denver on Nov. 2.

There are presently 20 players on the roster. At least five must be cut at the end of the preseason. Assuming all of the locks and the likely candidates are in and the prerequisite to carry three point guards isn't abandoned, that leaves just one spot available. What would you do with Jones? In or out?

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