After a return to form during the 2016 season, Andrew Nicholson proved he belongs in the NBA. The only question now is, will the Magic bring him back?
Andrew Nicholson played well for the Orlando Magic last season. The big man from St. Bonaventure returned to the level of play he displayed his rookie season in 2012, in averaging 16.8 points per 36 minutes and shooting a career-best 53.7 percent effective field goal percentage.
He clearly is a good piece for any NBA team. But with the Magic’s offseason plan focusing on recruiting major stars, Nicholson’s future is in doubt.
Nicholson knew that coming into this season he had to prove he belonged on a NBA roster. He was impressive early in his career and looked like a player who would produce down the line.
The two years following his rookie campaign, he shied away from the low post and worked on his outside game. This may not have been on him however, Jacque Vaughn seemed to value Nicholson’s shooting over his inside game.
Nicholson was yet again the odd man out in 2016. He did not have a solidified role and he was used to that. The years prior, Nicholson would have long lapses where he barely saw the floor. He played a measly seven minutes in the first 11 games of the season.
When the opportunity arose, Nicholson took full advantage and played solid minutes until early January where he saw a major dip in playing time again.
Following a long two-month stint on the pine, Nicholson returned with something to prove. Displaying his range and craftiness down low, Nicholson averaged just less than 10 points per game the last 16 games of the year.
The first Christmas Day game ever played in Orlando came on this day 25 years ago and it certainly did not disappoint.
In a rematch of the 1995 NBA Finals, the Orlando Magic got a modicum of revenge. Cheap Anfernee Hardaway Jersey again played the role of hero with a last-second shot to sink the Houston Rockets, 92-90.
After sweeping the Magic in the Finals, Houston returned to Orlando Arena for the first time on Dec. 25, 1995. The Rockets used a big third quarter to take the lead, but in the end, Hardaway sent Orlando fans hope happy on Christmas.
The Magic were 21-6 and for a while, it looked like they might cruise. Orlando outscored the Rockets 22-10 in the second quarter to take a 51-38 lead into the locker room. A monster third quarter by Houston temporarily changed the contest’s outlook.
After winning Finals MVP against Orlando, Houston center Hakeem Olajuwon scored 16 of his game-high 30 points in the third quarter. Back-to-back three-pointers by Mario Elie and Robert Horry gave the Rockets a 74-70 lead at the end of three.
That advantage would balloon to as many as eight in the final period, but losing at home was just something the Magic just didn’t do. In just his fifth game back from injury, center Shaquille O’Neal spurred the Magic comeback while playing with five fouls.
O’Neal paced Orlando with a team-high tying 22 points and a game-high 18 rebounds, but it was the supporting cast that delivered the Magic late. With less than 90 seconds to play, Cheap Dennis Scott Jersey three-pointer drew the Magic even at 90 apiece.
Olajuwon’s final shot of the night was an air ball that gave the Magic the final shot with just 24 seconds left. After hitting two buzzer beaters earlier in the year, Hardaway was forced to his right by Elie before pulling up from 12 feet. The ball rimmed out, hit glass and fell back through to give the Magic a 92-90 lead with 3.1 seconds to play.
Horry missed the winning three-point attempt as time expired. Horry and Elie complimented Olajuwon with 15 points apiece. Olajuwon grabbed 12 boards in the loss. Mark Bryant added 10 points, including the final eight for Houston, off the bench.
Like O’Neal, Hardaway scored 22 points in the win as the Magic improved to 22-6 and extended their home winning streak to 22 games. Scott added 19 points in the victory. Cheap Horace Grant Jersey and Cheap Nick Anderson Jersey each finished with 11 points.
After getting swept in the NBA Finals by Houston, Hardaway’s heroics would begin a string of 10 straight wins for Orlando over the Rockets. They came on this day a quarter-century ago.
It showed just how much he had improved on both sides of the ball, extending his range behind the 3-point line and improving his awareness and rebounding on defense. All the while maintaining his strong post game when given that opportunity.
Nicholson exceeded all expectations last season and has forced the Magic to make an extremely tough decision this offseason.
Cheap Aaron Gordon Jersey has secured his role as starting power forward for the Magic and thus Nicholson’s role would be his backup. That role is currently unresolved.
Ersan Ilyasova is due to make $8.4 million, but if the Magic cut him before July 1, they will save $8 million. He plays the same position as Nicholson and had similar numbers, playing in front of Nicholson after the Magic acquired him. Like Nicholson, his status is still very questionable.
As a restricted free agent, Nicholson may look for a lengthier contract and the Magic may have to pay a heftier price tag to retain him. Especially considering their usage of him the last two years.
Other teams with cap room could look at Nicholson as a key piece on their rotation and bump his price tag higher than the Magic are willing to pay.
Even with his stock rising, Nicholson is part of the old regime, he has been on the Magic roster longer than every other player and that could play a part in general manager Rob Hennigan’s decision as well.
One thing to keep in mind is Cheap Andrew Nicholson Jersey is a restricted free agent this off season which gives the Magic the ability to match any offer Nicholson receives.
The Magic could face a big problem this summer. If they cannot land a max-contract player, Nicholson could become more of a necessity. Especially if they cut Ilyasova leaving Aaron Gordon with no backup.
If that is the case, Nicholson would be a “no-brainer” to bring back due to his ability to provide scoring off the bench and lack of depth behind Aaron Gordon. Ilyasova is also no lock to come back, so the Magic could be shuffling for a forward.
Rob Hennigan has talked about how the Magic need to add veteran players to a very young core. At 26, Nicholson is heading into his prime and could be a nice rotational piece for the Magic for five-plus years. He fits into the current makeup of the team well too. He can spread the floor, which the Magic desperately need, and he is not a liability on defense, especially with a rim protector on the floor with him.
Whether Nicholson stays in pinstripes, or heads to a new home, one team will be getting a productive player that brings a lot to the table.
The Orlando Magic will try to bring in a top-notch player who demands a big price tag, but filling out the rest of the roster and creating depth will be important too. Andrew Nicholson is a great option to bring off the bench and produces when given the playing time.
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Nicholson is used to waiting for his opportunity to contribute and that will be no different this summer. What price and for how much Nicholson will go for though remains a mystery.