Jason Williams Will Ignite a Magic Point Guard Controversy
They are going to have one now. It's only a matter of time.
By signing veteran point guard Jason Williams – a starter for the 2006 NBA champion Miami Heat – the Magic have opened the door to a world of late-game second guessing, especially if starter Jameer Nelson can't deliver consistently and keep the Magic atop the Eastern Conference standings.
And that's a real possibility.
"He (Williams) is a veteran point guard who know what it takes to help us reach our ultimate goal,'' said general manager Otis Smith. "He provides depth and leadership.''
Although the Magic have made it clear that Nelson is their leader and starter, the fact is that Alston was the point guard last season who took the team to the NBA Finals after Nelson left at mid-season with a shoulder injury.
Nelson tried to return for the NBA Finals, but he struggled trying to regain his early-season form, disrupting the playing rotation with his sudden comeback.
The Magic already had veteran Anthony Johnson as Nelson's backup for this season, and they tried hard to land restricted free agent C.J. Watson, a younger, quicker, point guard from Golden State.
When that failed to get Watson, they turned to Williams, 33, who sat out last season after retiring instead of honoring the one-year contract that he had signed with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Williams had been lobbying hard all summer for the Magic to sign him because he has been making his off-season home in Orlando for several years. Although he was once a flashy, ball-dominating point guard when he played in Sacramento and Memphis, he changed his reputation dramatically in Miami when he learned to play under control with Shaquille O'Neal and Dwyane Wade. They won a title together.
Magic coach Stan Van Gundy coached Williams in Miami before Pat Riley stepped in to replace him. Van Gundy is comfortable with Williams, which would make him a quick substitute if the Magic or Nelson struggle to regain last season's form.
Nelson, going into his sixth year, is coming off his finest half season, averaging 16.7 points and 5.4 assists to become an All-Star just before his injury.
Although the Magic still are considered one of the three favorites in the East, their chemistry was changed dramatically this summer when they traded for high-scoring Vince Carter instead of re-signing free agent Hedo Turkoglu. They also will be starting the season without Rashard Lewis, who will miss the first 10 games for violating the NBA's Anti-Drug agreement.
With the roster change, Nelson is not expected to be getting the scoring opportunities that he received last season, which could change his outlook and production. In Williams, the Magic now have a veteran who won't be starting, but he could be finishing, opening a controversy the Magic had hoped to avoid.