Commentary

Some point guard options for Orlando

Originally Published: February 4, 2009
By Chad Ford | ESPN.com

Jamaal Tinsley and Jameer NelsonFernando Medina/NBAE/Getty ImagesDon't scrunch your face too much at this: Nelson's fill-in could be Jamaal Tinsley.

The Orlando Magic suffered a major blow to their NBA championship chances Monday when Jameer Nelson dislocated his shoulder and tore his labrum.

The Magic and Nelson still are looking at their options for recovery, but there's a good chance Nelson could be done for the season.

That leaves the Magic in a tough situation. The team already was thin at point guard before Nelson's injury. Now, it has to rely on Anthony Johnson and a group of wings to handle the ball. It's far from ideal.

Orlando general manager Otis Smith acknowledged as much Tuesday in a news conference and said he already is looking for replacements:

"I don't think there is anything that's off the table yet. You look at ways of making our team better. We lost a point guard, a position at which we were already shorthanded at this point. It's a matter of trying to make the best deal that's available for us -- whether it's to find a free agent that's available or do it through a trade. We are actively [considering options] and have been since [Monday] night."

The Magic have three basic options:

1. Do nothing.

This strategy would be built on the hope that a combination of Johnson and wings like Courtney Lee and Hedo Turkoglu can handle the position. If Nelson is coming back sooner rather than later, this might be the best option for the team. If he's out for the season, it isn't so good.

2. Look for a free agent to sign for the veteran minimum.

There aren't a lot of great options out there. The best choice, although he technically is not a free agent, is probably former Magic player Carlos Arroyo, who left Orlando to play in Israel this season. Orlando could try to buy him out of his contract and bring him back. Arroyo already knows the system and has been effective in the past.

Another quasi-free agent is former Heat point guard Jason Williams, who retired in September. The Clippers still own his rights, but I'm sure the Magic could work out a deal if he wanted to return.

If the Knicks buy out or release Stephon Marbury, he could be an option. But he doesn't fit the type of "character-first" culture Smith has tried to put in place. Besides, at this point, it's far from clear that Knicks GM Donnie Walsh is going to do Marbury any favors by buying him out or releasing him any time soon.

Damon Stoudamire, who played last season for Memphis and San Antonio, is available as well.

3. Make a deal before the Feb. 19 trade deadline.

The most likely scenario, then, is that the Magic will try to pull off a trade for a legit point guard. The problem is that the Magic aren't flush with assets that (A) they are willing to part with and (B) other teams want.

That said, let's look at four plausible deals the Magic might be able to pull off. Click on the link to see what the trade looks like in the ESPN Trade Machine.


1. Pacers trade Jamaal Tinsley for Brian Cook and Keith Bogans

If what the Pacers and Tinsley's agent are saying is true, Tinsley is totally healthy and in shape. Of course, the two years and $14.7 million left on Tinsley's contract would make even the richest teams gag, especially when you look at his injury history. And given Smith's desire not to infect his locker room with players with character issues, the Magic might not be able to pull the trigger on a Tinsley trade.


2. Thunder trade Earl Watson for Cook and Bogans
Watson might not be an ideal starting point guard, but he's a veteran who plays tough defense and keeps turnovers to a minimum. The real downside is that Watson has another year at $6.6 million left on his contract. For the Thunder, the bright side is that they would move Watson's salary off the books and get an expiring contract (Bogans') in return.


3. Trail Blazers trade Steve Blake, Channing Frye and Sergio Rodriguez for Hedo Turkoglu and Anthony Johnson
While neither Blake nor Rodriguez is a star, they are solid players who would give Orlando an instant point guard rotation. (Blake is currently out with his own shoulder injury, but he's expected to return within a week.) Rodriguez has more upside than Blake but is younger and more erratic as well. Both players could come off the books for the Magic next year, meaning no long-term hit on their cap.

Just as important would be the acquisition of Frye, whose size and rebounding ability would give the Magic some much-needed help on their front line.

The cost would be high for the Magic. Turkoglu has been solid and sometimes spectacular for the Magic the past two seasons. But they have enough talented wing players, particularly Mickael Pietrus and Courtney Lee, to fill the shoes of Turkoglu, who is a risk to opt out of his contract and leave Orlando this summer anyway.

The Blazers have been looking for a small forward, and Turkoglu would be a good, low-risk option. Portland might have to pay him to keep him, but a trade now would give the team a few months to see how he fits as he contributes to the Blazers' drive to make some noise in the playoffs this spring.

Meanwhile, the Blazers, who have been rolling even with Blake sidelined, would continue to use Brandon Roy, the team leader in assists, as the primary ball handler in key situations, with Jerryd Bayless and Johnson backing him up, and Turkoglu and Rudy Fernandez also in playmaking roles.


4. Kings trade Beno Udrih for Cook and Bogans
The Magic would get a solid point guard but a pricey one: Udrih has four more years and $27 million left on his deal. That's a lot for a guy who would be a backup on most teams in the league. But he is good enough to run this team in Nelson's absence and can play both the 1 and the 2 as a reserve when Nelson returns. The Kings likely would be interested in the deal because it would provide salary cap relief.

Chad Ford covers the NBA for ESPN Insider.

Chad Ford

Senior Writer, NBA Insider