Tuck: Magic’s Jameer Nelson Free Agent Decision

Jameer Nelson has a difficult decision to make.  Does he opt out of the final year of his contract, a contract that will pay him almost $8 million?  He won’t make that much in all likelihood per year in any offer, but he can pursue a longer contract that guarantees him more money.  But then he might have to leave a comfortable situation and the team that drafted him.  But if he opts in, then he is at the whim of the Magic if they choose to trade him and his expiring deal.  He could end up on a team with no chance of winning a title for a year.  If he opts out, he can pick, with limits, where he plays.

Competition on the free agent market will be fierce.  Here is a list of who else will be looking for jobs.


Steve Nash, Goran Dragic, Jason Terry, Andre Miller, Chauncey Billups, Raymond Felton, Randy Foye, Jason Kidd, Jerryd Bayless, Kirk Hinrich, Delonte West, Derek Fisher, Jannero Pargo, Nate Robinson, John Lucas III, Gilbert Arenas, Keyon Dooling, Sundiata Gaines, Mike Bibby, Baron Davis, Royal Ivey, Jonny Flynn, AJ Price, Jamal Tinsley, Mike James


Jeremy Lin, DJ Augustin, George Hill

Unrestricted w/Player Options

Deron Williams, Mo Williams*, Jameer Nelson, Ramon Sessions, Lou Williams, Jamal Crawford, Jordan Farmar, Beno Udrih*

*- have chose to opt-in to deals

If Jameer Nelson opts out, he probably won’t be one of the top ten point guards available, or at least bid on.  The Magic would be a team interested in acquiring a point guard, but who and how much they’ll spend depends a lot on the direction of the team.  I am not convinced Nelson will find even a full mid-level contract on the open market.  Barring injury, I don’t see how he won’t have a similar deal available to him next offseason. The 2013 free agent class of point guards may even be deeper than this 2012 crop, so it won’t be any easier to find work next year however.

If I were Nelson, I think I would stay, and opt in.  He won’t control what the Magic will do with him, but he’ll have $7.88 million to comfort him.  It’s possible the next deal he signs won’t be in excess of more than $4 million per year, so he’d be working two years just to make up for this “lost” year.  There is also no promise that he’ll get a deal longer than two years, whether he chooses to be a free agent in 2012 or 2013.

Jameer Nelson is coming off his worst season in four years, so he isn’t bringing much negotiating power to the market if he leaves either.  This is the last year of his last big deal.  He doesn’t have another big deal on the horizon.  I think if he recognizes that, then the choice to stay becomes the most logical.