It certainly was a topsy-turvy offseason for the Orlando Magic, and especially for Jameer Nelson. The guard saw his general manager Otis Smith replaced by Rob Hennigan, his head coach replaced by Jacque Vaughn and his star teammate, Dwight Howard, traded to the Los Angeles Lakers.
As Nelson gets set for training camp, he’s prepared to be a part of the rebuilding process in Orlando and knows his role is probably going to have to change.
Jameer Nelson joined WYGM in Orlando to discuss what the offseason has been like, playing with a bunch of new teammates, why he decided to stay in Orlando, how his role changes as part of the rebuilding process, his feelings when the team made a change at general manager and head coach, his thoughts on the departure of Dwight Howard and his relationship with Howard at this point.
Usually you like to invite your teammates up to Philadelphia and get together to work in the offseason. The craziness of this offseason must’ve made that tough:
“Yeah, guys getting traded and moved around and all that stuff, it was a tough year for that, in terms of me trying to coordinate with guys and stuff. But we’ve been working out together the last few weeks, playing five-on-five and just being around the team. So I think we’ve done a good job bonding.”
What’s your role going to be like with so many new teammates, a new coach and a new GM?:
“It’s going to be fun. I’m excited. We’ve been together talking about it. … It’s almost like we’re waiting until it’s time to go. It’s a lot of excitement. We’re ready to get out there on the court together in a real situation.”
Are you guys going to need to wear name tags?:
“I’ll help you out with that. We have a lot of young guys, but those young guys have a lot of potential and play with a lot of energy. We haven’t been in a real-game situation, but just playing pickup, you see the potential that they have and the potential that this team has.”
How close were you to leaving Orlando and why did you decide to stay?:
“The thing was, you have to make a business decision for yourself and your family when you’re dealing with any business. … After that, the thing I had to think about was, what’s my business going to be and where do I want to have my business? And I wouldn’t want to have it anywhere else but Orlando. I love the fans and the fans love me. They’ve definitely embraced myself and my family. … We feel like this is our home now.”
Isn’t it going to be tough for you to go through the rebuilding process, though?:
“I just think that my job is going to change in me being more of a vocal leader and helping the guys get better every day. I’ve been through my last five years of great years with the organization, with the coaches and management we had. I know what it takes to win, so when we go through tough stretches … it’s going to be my job to lead those guys out of tough stretches.”
What were your feelings when the organization decided to go a different direction in terms of general manager and head coach?:
“I’ve never said this publicly, but no, I wasn’t in favor of it, but I understand it’s a business. I had talks with Otis and Stan prior to the situation and after, so that tells you my relationship with those guys. … I just know that they put me in a great situation, being my coach and being my GM, and giving me opportunities. … But I also know that sometimes you need change and it’s not my decision to make the changes.”
What were your thoughts when the trade was made and Dwight left Orlando?:
“He wanted a change and that’s what he got. My job, for Dwight and to Dwight, is to be a friend. I told him I was happy for him. I was happy for him to be able to move on with his career and I wished him best of luck and hoped he got his recovery and his rehab and everything went well. … We’d been together for X amount of years and it’s tough to see guys go, but like I said early, it’s always that business side of things.”
Were any of the rumors true that you and he had a falling out?:
“No. My agent actually told me that he read something saying that me and Dwight almost got into a fight and I just laughed it off. We’re grown men and anytime you’re competing … you’re going to have disagreements. That’s happened numerous amount of times and not just last year. … Everything and anything was just kind of taken out of proportion. And also we were watched closely. We never got into a scuffle, never got into a bad situation and we still remain friends to this day.”