If he's judged healthy enough to return within the next few days, Orlando Magic all-star point guard Jameer Nelson will play against the team he was instrumental in beating twice this season --- the Los Angeles Lakers --- in the NBA Finals. Game 1 is Thursday night in Los Angeles.
General Manager Otis Smith told the Sentinel on Sunday that Nelson would only play if he passes "a litany of tests" and the club is comfortable with a decision that won't risk his future.
Nelson has not played since tearing the labrum in his right shoulder on Feb. 3 against the Dallas Mavericks. He underwent what was believed to be season-ending surgery on Feb. 19, but his rehabilitation is dramatically ahead of schedule, as much as two months.
Smith said Nelson underwent an MRI as recently as last week and has participated in contact drills.
"It's up in the air. We'll see how Jameer looks the next few days," Smith said. "There's a few more things we have to get comfortable with. We're looking at the pros and cons. Doctors will have to talk to doctors. If we're at a place where Jameer can help us accomplish our goals, then maybe he can play and give us some more punch.
"There's a litany of tests he'll have to pass. His health is the main thing. We're not going to mortgage his future."
Nelson keyed the sweep against the Lakers. He scored 15 of his 27 points in a third-quarter stretch to spark a 106-103 victory in Orlando on Dec. 20 and scored 15 of his 28 points in the fourth period of a 109-103 Magic win in L.A. on Jan. 16.
Nelson also will have input in the final decision. "Would I like to play? Of course. I'm a competitor," Nelson said. "But I don't want to do anything that would jeopardize me long-term."