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Duhon Signing a Souring Loss In O-Town?

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A Daily Babble Production

As was discussed yesterday in this space, the Chris Duhon signing fills a need for the hated Knickerbockers but isn't likely on its own to instigate any ground-breaking changes in the results for the team in the Sizable Apple.

So our attention turns to an Eastern contender that seems to be quite bothered by losing out on what apparently became a sweepstakes of sorts for the former Duke guard's services.

The very beginnings of desperation are beginning to seep into the air around the Orlando Magic with regard to their point-guard situation.  Though he wrote that the Magic were looking for a back-up, the Orlando Sentinel's Brian Schmitz reported that the team was quite high on Duhon and frustrated that he went elsewhere -- and that re-signing Keyon Dooling has become a priority there.

Given that Duhon has started more than half the games he has played in his four-year career and that the team knew he was likely to command starter money, it seems time to wonder if the Magic are finally headed toward throwing in the towel on Jameer Nelson after four years of his own.

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Uh-oh.  Time to look silly: I have been a sometimes-tacit (sometimes-not) booster of Jameer Nelson's since he came out of St. Joseph's.  Despite his lack of size, Nelson is a compactly built guard who competes hard and has a reputation for being mentally tough, and I've long had faith that his desire (and ability to get to the rim, handle the ball and make good decisions) would drive him past expectations in this league eventually.

Four years into his career, the questions about Nelson's ability to jump a level in the Association are increasingly piercing.   To his credit, his production did increase in certain areas this season.  His minutes dropped, but he averaged a career-high 5.6 assists per game, and his 41.6 percent shooting from deep helped push him to a solid 56.4 percent true shooting mark.

However, on a team that has continued to grow around him, Nelson has begun to stand out more and more as a weak link.  Not only is he not a big-time threat as a scorer, but his skills as a creator have come into enough question that the Magic both reduced his minutes (28.4 per game) and began going to Hedo Turkoglu as a point forward throughout key stretches of games over this past season.  Nelson also turns the ball over twice per game, and his assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.72-to-1 ranked just 28th among qualified point guards in 2007-08.  His decision-making hasn't been ideal, and he hasn't been quite the dynamic table-setter for swingmen Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis and franchise center Dwight Howard that the Magic envisioned when they acquired Nelson on draft night in 2004.  He is an average-to-decent defender but not a great one.

In the meantime, while not a great player, Duhon would have represented a solution for a lot of the problems that Nelson creates.  He is a low-risk player who had one of the best assist-to-turnover ratios among point guards in the league this year, and his decision-making on the court is considered well more sound than his choices off it.  Further, Duhon has a rep as a very good defender, and he would have added at least a tad more size than Nelson brings to the table.  All that in mind, it's hard to imagine that Duhon wouldn't have come in and competed for Nelson's job right away.

But that's all by the wayside in the coulda-woulda-shoulda pile now.  Duhon isn't headed to Orlando, and the Magic are currently still sitting with Jameer Nelson as their floor general.  That would be an undersized floor general who isn't a scorer, isn't a great facilitator, turns the ball over and isn't trusted as lead creator late in games.  But while that doesn't sound good, Nelson has also improved in some areas over the last couple of seasons, seems to play hard every night and is a mediocre-to-decent point guard, not a terrible one.

With the pickings slim at the point from here on out this summer, it looks like Nelson will remain the man in Orlando for at least the foreseeable future.  Thus we are left wondering if Nelson's presence at the point hamstrings this Orlando team going forward.  If the answer is yes, just how badly does it do so?