Denton: Vucevic Will Sit Out Rest of Season

Nikola Vucevic

By John Denton
April 13, 2014

NEW YORK – A season full of stops and starts for Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic because of various injuries came to an abrupt halt on Sunday because of nagging soreness in his left Achilles’ tendon.

Magic head coach Jacque Vaughn said that Vucevic would not play the rest of the season as the franchise looks to protect one of its cornerstone pieces because of lingering tenderness in his left Achilles.

Vucevic, who got in a workout Sunday night prior to Orlando’s game against Brooklyn, was a late scratch before last Friday’s game in Charlotte because of pain in his foot. He missed the past three games and the decision was made on Sunday night that the risk was too great to play him in a game without any practice time.

``His Achilles is better, but he’s missed 10 days since he last played five-on-five. I’ve always said that I need to be comfortable and the player needs to be comfortable before we put him back on the floor and we have three games in four days, so we just think it would be wise to get him 100 percent going into the offseason,’’ Vaughn said. ``I’d be sick to my stomach if he was not 100 percent with his Achilles and that triggered some other part of his body getting hurt. So we’ll be wise as an organization and get him comfortable going into the offseason.’’

Vucevic played just 57 games this season because of ankle, Achilles’ and concussion injuries. Still, he averaged 14.2 points and 11.0 rebounds per game, which is the eighth-best total in the NBA. Vucevic had 36 double-doubles and 20-point, 20-rebound games against the Los Angeles Clippers (30 points and 21 rebounds) and Charlotte Bobcats (24 points, 23 rebounds).

Vucevic missed six games from Dec. 3-9 and Jan. 2-4 due to a sprained left ankle. He returned on Jan.5 only to suffer a concussion when he landed head first on the floor after trying to contest a Blake Griffin shot in the lane.

Finally back in rhythm after missing 12 games with the second concussion of his career, Vucevic began playing his best basketball of the season before being slowed by the Achilles issue. He had a stretch of three straight 20-point games in late March to boost his scoring average to 14.4 points – the highest that it had been since early December.

``Nik was playing really good basketball,’’ Vaughn said. ``He had the unfortunate concussion that time some time away from the floor. But when you look back on this year, it was a very successful year for him. A lot of things gained.’’

NO NELSON: Two nights after nearly registering the first triple-double of his 10-year NBA career, Magic veteran Jameer Nelson was held out of action because of a groin strain.

Nelson did not play on Sunday against the Brooklyn Nets, giving rookie Victor Oladipo a chance to start at the point guard position. Nelson had played the bulk of the minutes at point guard the previous three games, playing 29, 29 and 34 minutes. Because of that, Oladipo played just 29, 19 and 16 minutes in the three games earlier this week.

Nelson played well on Friday against Washington, totaling 12 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds. He’s had 12 double-digit assist games this season, including a season-best 13 against Milwaukee in Febraury and 12 last Saturday night in a defeat of Minnesota.

Nelson has missed 12 games this season and his availability for Monday’s road game in Chicago is uncertain. Nelson, who is averaging 12.1 points and a team-best 7.0 assists a game, is hopeful of playing in the season finale against Indiana on Wednesday at the Amway Center.