Howard's hurting Jameer and Smith's hurting Magic

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Next time you're on Church Street in downtown Orlando, it's probably a good idea to look both ways before crossing the street.

Those LYNX buses are dangerous, especially when someone is behind you pushing.

Rarely does a general manager throw a franchise player under the bus but that's exactly what the Magic's Otis Smith did when asked about Jameer Nelson's poor play so far this season. And interestingly enough, Smith did it by accusing D-12 of throwing Jameer under a different bus.

Addressing the struggles of his former All-Star point guard, who is averaging a career-low 8.3 points per game on shaky 39 percent shooting, Smith placed the blame squarely at the feet of his big man.

"You spend time [in the media] talking about Chris Paul or Deron Williams, but what position do they play?" Smith told the Orlando Sentinel. "It's the same position that [Jameer] plays. So, it's not necessarily that he [Howard] is directly throwing him under the bus. But he's indirectly throwing him under the bus."

Of course, Howard's preferred future destinations remain the Nets and the Clippers, where he would be playing with either Williams or Paul. That, according to Smith, is placing unneeded added pressure on Nelson.

"{Nelson] has to play better, and he recognizes he has to play better," Smith continued. "But through all of this, he's the one that's taking the pounding. And, right now, he's justifying the pounding, because he's not playing well. But we sometimes forget in professional sports that they're people. Regardless of what we talk about, they're still human beings."

My semester in Psychology 101 tells me that pointing out that a veteran like Nelson has that fragile an ego could even be worse for his psyche than Howard's constant pining over superstars like CP3 and D-Will. Smith, evidently, must have missed class that day at Jacksonville University.

"As tough as he wants to be on the outside, he's a 30-year-old kid," Smith said of Nelson. "So, we still have to work through the mental aspect of him taking a pounding. The center doesn't come out and say it's directly on Jameer, but basically he has."

Talk about a stretch.

Heck, I'm sure Howard would rather play with Magic Johnson in his prime than either Paul or Williams. Is that going to cripple their confidence?

Nelson has been through enough wars to understand teammates longing to play with other superstars, whether they are as talented as Howard or the 12th man on the bench, is nothing new. In fact, Jameer has probably done it a time or two himself. Maybe he's licking his chops thinking about the well-rounded Andrew Bynum in blue and silver right now.

As a team leader, Nelson would never do that kind of thing publicly and it's certainly a legitimate indictment that Howard, a co-captain for the Magic, has. But let's be blunt, the Atlanta native already has one foot out the door anyway.

Smith's job is not to push Howard through that door or under any bus, it's to get as much for the franchise cornerstone as possible. Pointing out that he's being a bad teammate probably isn't the best way to go about it.


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