Denton: Nelson on Future and Draft Lottery Positioning

Jameer Nelson

By John Denton
April 14, 2014

CHICAGO – Point guard Jameer Nelson, only the second player in Orlando Magic history to play for the franchise for 10 seasons, admitted on Monday night that he’s given a lot of thought to his future with the only team he’s ever played for.

Nelson, 32, said his first choice would be to remain with the Magic beyond this season and for years to come. However, the Magic hold a team option on the final year of his contract and have yet to indicate whether or not they plan to exercise that option.

``I do think about it a lot, but I don’t know what the future holds,’’ said Nelson, who missed his second consecutive game with a sore left groin on Monday night. ``I don’t know the plan. I just have to be patient and see that they are going to do because it’s the team’s option (with his contract).’’

Nelson is the Magic’s all-time leader in assists (3,501) and he moved up to fourth on the franchise’s scoring list (8,184 points) this season by passing Shaquille O’Neal. He is on pace to become the team’s all-time leader in games played (currently at 651 games played) next season – that is, if he’s still with the Magic. Nelson has always taken great pride in the fact that he’s worn only a Magic jersey throughout his career and he hopes his run in Orlando is extended to an 11th season.

``I would definitely like to stay with the Magic, but it’s a business and it’s up to these guys,’’ Nelson said. ``I haven’t talked to them much about (the plan), so I don’t know what’s going to happen.’’ Despite often playing against point guards 10-to-12 years younger than him, Nelson still played at a high level this season. He ranks eighth in the league in assists per game (7.0) and he’s fifth on the team in scoring (12.1 ppg.). Nelson has tried to be a sounding board and a locker room leader for the Magic’s gaggle of young players, including fellow point guard Victor Oladipo.

``I look at myself as a professional on and off the court and I always want to carry myself in that manner,’’ Nelson said. ``So hopefully these guys will look back at me someday the way I look back to Grant (Hill) and Pat Garrity and how they were as professionals. Hopefully, they will say the same thing about me.’’

Knowing that Wednesday’s season finale against Indiana could be his final home game in an Orlando uniform, Nelson said he wants to play if possible, adding: ``I hope to play, but I have to be careful.’’

LATE-SEASON POSITIONING: While several teams in the NBA continue to jockey for playoff seeds going down the stretch, the Magic are involved in some important positioning as well. The Magic headed into Monday night’s game in Chicago with the NBA’s third-worst record, a position that is certainly humbling, but one that could pay big benefits going into the May 20 NBA Draft Lottery.

If the Magic remain in the third slot, they will have a 15.6 percent chance of winning the first pick in the June NBA Draft. By comparison, the team with the worst record will have a 25 percent shot at No. 1 while the second worst will have a 19.9 percent shot at winning the top spot. Milwaukee and Philadelphia are locked into the top two spots in the draft.

If the Magic stay at No. 3, they will have a 46.9 percent chance of getting a pick in the top three. The Magic can fall no lower than sixth in the draft.

The team with the third-worst odds has won the NBA Draft Lottery each of the past two seasons – New Orleans taking Anthony Davis and Cleveland picking Anthony Bennett. Also, the third slot has won the lottery seven times over the past 18 years of the NBA Draft Lottery.

If the Magic win in their season-finale against the Indiana Pacers, they could potentially equal the 24 wins of the Utah Jazz. If the teams are tied at season’s end, the NBA will combine and split the number of lottery chances for the third-worst and fourth-worst records (275 chances). A coin flip will determine which team receives 138 chances and which gets 137 chances.