Los Angeles Lakers v Orlando Magic

Magic waive Jameer Nelson


Only Kobe Bryant, Nick Collison,

Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Udonis Haslem, Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker, Anderson Varejao and Dwyane Wade have remained with the same team the entirety of Jameer Nelson’s Magic tenure.

Nelson was drafted in 2004, the same year Orlando took Dwight Howard No. 1. Together, they helped the Magic rise into an Eastern Conference power, and Nelson remained long after Howard forced his way out of town.

But now Nelson is also leaving the rebuilding Magic. In No. 12 pick Elfrid Payton, Orlando has its point guard of the future.

Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:

Just $2 million of Nelson’s $8 million 2014-15 salary was guaranteed, and the contract didn’t become totally guaranteed until July 16.

The Magic made the rational decision Nelson was no longer needed at that price, clearly. But I don’t understand why the Magic waived him now as opposed to waiting closer to the deadline.

Maybe it was a courtesy to allow him more options in free agency. If that were Orlando general manager Rob Hennigan’s rationale, he was being mighty generous. Nelson is likely the type teams sign after they fill most of their roster.

When the Magic sold so low on Arron Afflalo, Hennigan got a pass, because he reportedly canvassed the entire league in search of a better offer before agreeing to that deal with the Nuggets. But maybe we shouldn’t keep giving him the benefit of the doubt.

I believe Hennigan explored Nelson trades, using his contract to offer cap savings, as the Raptors did with John Salmons. So, if Hennigan couldn’t find an acceptable deal, there’s nothing wrong with waiving Nelson.

But July 16 is a long way off, and circumstances can change quickly. Quite possibly, a team could have offered a desirable trade necessitating Nelson’s contract before then.

Again, this might all fall under professional courtesy, and that’s a nice gesture if that’s the case. It’s also squandering an asset, though.

For Nelson, options in free agency will definitely emerge.

The Heat need a point guard with Mario Chalmers a free agent. Neither Norris Cole nor Shabazz Napier is good enough stay the course without trying to upgrade. Nelson’s best days are behind him, but he could definitely help a win-now team like Miami. Plus, the Heat would offer him a chance to stay in Florida.

Maybe Nelson reunites with Stan Van Gundy in Detroit. The Pistons could definitely use a more reliable point guard than Brandon Jennings, even if that’s just to pressure Jennings into steadying himself. Nelson would definitely increases Detroit’s chances of starting a better point guard, whether it’s him or Jennings, than last year. However, with Will Bynum – an OK enough backup – already contract, the Pistons might need to use their cap room on areas of greater need (wing positions).

I could also see Nelson landing with the Knicks. A quality outside shooter who’s not blazing quick, Nelson would fit well in the triangle. Jose Calderon, acquired in the Tyson Chandler trade, is a good fit, but there would be enough minutes for both.

Really, if Nelson were willing to become a backup – and he likely must – he’ll have plenty of suitors.

Jahlil Okafor tweets apology for recent off-court behavior

Jahlil Okafor
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The off-court incidents have been piling up for Jahlil Okafor over the past month: first, an incident captured on video that showed Okafor getting into a fight with a heckler early Thanksgiving morning; then, a report that Okafor had a gun pulled on him in a previous incident; and finally, this morning’s report that the Sixers’ No. 3 overall pick in this June’s draft had been pulled over in recent weeks for driving 108 miles per hour in Philadelphia. Together, they aren’t a good look for the rookie.

On Sunday afternoon, Okafor apologized for his recent behavior in a series of tweets:

The recent incidents involving Okafor are surprising—going into the draft, he never had any red flags for maturity or off-the-court issues. He’s certainly saying the right things after the fact, and he’s only 19, so hopefully this is nothing more than a small rough patch where he’s made some bad decisions, and not an indicator of things to come.

Kobe Bryant announces this is his final season


It has seemed like this was it for a while. Kobe Bryant has been frustrated; he hasn’t been able to produce like he expects — his play has been hard to watch — and the Lakers are a train wreck.

Kobe made it official Sunday via the Players’ Tribune — this is his final season. He did it via a letter called “Dear Basketball.”

You gave a six-year-old boy his Laker dream
And I’ll always love you for it.
But I can’t love you obsessively for much longer.
This season is all I have left to give.
My heart can take the pounding
My mind can handle the grind
But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.

And that’s OK.
I’m ready to let you go.
I want you to know now
So we both can savor every moment we have left together.
The good and the bad.
We have given each other
All that we have.

It’s not coincidental this was announced a couple days before the Lakers travel to Kobe’s hometown of Philadelphia to face the Sixers. Also remember Kobe is an investor in The Players’ Tribune.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver quickly released this statement:

“With 17 NBA All-Star selections, an NBA MVP, five NBA championships with the Lakers, two Olympic gold medals and a relentless work ethic, Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest players in the history of our game.  Whether competing in the Finals or hoisting jump shots after midnight in an empty gym, Kobe has an unconditional love for the game.

“I join Kobe’s millions of fans around the world in congratulating him on an outstanding NBA career and thank him for so many thrilling memories.”

Kobe will go down as one of the game’s all-time greats. Few can come close to his resume: Five NBA titles, two NBA Finals MVPs, 15 time All-NBA teams, one MVP, 17 times an All-Star (and the All-Star Game MVP four times). And we could go on and on.

Good on Kobe for doing this now. After 55,000 NBA minutes his body has quit on him, and where his mind is still willing the flesh is clearly weak right now. He has not been able to adapt his game to the changing realities of what he can do.

Kobe has said he doesn’t want a “Derek Jeter Farewell Tour” but that will be the feel from here on out. Expect some special recognition at the All-Star Game in Toronto.

Bulls’ Dunleavy to see specialist after suffering setback with back injury

Mike Dunleavy, Joakim Noah
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CHICAGO—Over the past few weeks, Bulls forward Mike Dunleavy has seemed to be making progress in his back rehab. Dunleavy underwent back surgery shortly before the start of training camp and was initially given a timeline of 8-10 weeks. Recently, he’s been increasing his workload, and he traveled with the team on their recent west coast road trip.

However, his recovery may have hit a snag.

“Mike is going to see a doctor again tomorrow and then we should have a better update after that,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said after practice on Sunday. “He had a little bit of soreness. But we’ll have more on that tomorrow.”

An update to Dunleavy’s status is coming, but given Dunleavy’s age (35) and the frequency of back injuries to reoccur, this news certainly isn’t encouraging. Between Tony Snell and Doug McDermott, the Bulls have struggled at both ends of the floor on the wing. Getting Dunleavy back, whenever that happens, will be a huge help. But nobody knows when that will be.

Stan Van Gundy calls out Andre Drummond’s effort after loss to Thunder

Andre Drummond
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After a promising start to the season, the Pistons have lost three of their last four games and seven of their last 10. And although he’s been outstanding for most of the season, Andre Drummond has not been above receiving criticism from Stan Van Gundy. The coach called out Drummond’s effort on Friday night after a loss to the Thunder.

Via Sportando:

“I didn’t think he brought much energy to the Milwaukee game, and I didn’t think he brought much energy tonight,” Van Gundy said of the two beatings the Pistons received this week. “Why that is, I don’t know. But we need a lot more from him than we got tonight.”

Calling out your best player in the media is bold, but Van Gundy has enough of a track record and a reputation, going back to his days in Orlando with Dwight Howard, that he can get away with it. It also sends a message to the entire team that Van Gundy isn’t going to hold his star to a different standard than the rest of the team.

Despite a couple of poor performances, Drummond is having a career year, leading the league in rebounding at 17.1 per game while also averaging 17.9 points.