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There will be plenty of nostalgia to come throughout the 25th Anniversary season for the Magic. Jason Maxiell has already commented on his desire to wear Horace Grant goggles to protect an eye he had surgery on to repair a detached retina. The Magic have their plans already set too (both announced and unannounced, I am sure). And there will be some thoughts regarding Jameer Nelson's 10th season.
What is really scary to think about is that the players now playing in the NBA never knew a league without the Magic in it. They grew up on Anfernee Hardaway, Shaquille O'Neal and Tracy McGrady. Victor Oladipo said meeting McGrady and receiving advice from the former Magic star was a blessing.
Solomon Jones was among those who grew up watching and cheering for the Magic. His family, like so many others, cheered for Michael Jordan and the Bulls. Those who wanted to be avant garde and contrarian cheered for the rival Magic. Being from Eustis, Florida, also made being a Magic fan a bit more convenient.
Jones graduated from Mount Dora High School and went to South Florida. He spends part of his offseason in Miami training (as well as Mount Dora which is still home). To be part of the Magic's 25th Anniversary team . . . that would be special.
"It would be something I would be able to talk to my kids about," Jones said. "Coming back in, missed a year, getting an opportunity to play at home on the 25th anniversary. One day when I have some kids, it will be something I can tell them about."
First things first, however. Jones has to make the Magic roster. That will not be easy.
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Jones has been in and out of the league since 2007. He has career averages of 3.1 points per game and 2.4 rebounds per game in 11.1 minutes per game for the Hawks, Pacers, Clippers, Hornets and Knicks. Most recently, Jones made two appearances for the Knicks last year.
The 6-foot-10 forward has always been know as a solid defender and solid shot blocker. He certainly fills a need for the Magic and would be a valuable player to have on the roster for a young team if not just a great body to have to push guys in practice and in training camp.
"We're really excited to have Solomon with us," Magic general manager Rob Hennigan said. "His length and his activity in the front court are areas that we are looking to upgrad and to improve. We feel like he'll have a chance to come in and really make an impact in a lot of different areas, but certainly with his activity."
Again, that does not tell anyone whether Jones can make the roster. Already Glen Davis, Jason Maxiell and Nikola Vucevic, Andrew Nicholson and Tobias Harris have roster spots locked up at power forward and center. Even if you throw Harris out of the mix at power forward, that is already a pretty deep set of players at that position. It more or less leaves Jones to battle Kyle O'Quinn and Romero Osby for a roster spot.
Considering that the Magic invested draft picks in both O'Quinn and Osby (not to mention their youth with Jones already 29 years old, elderly compared to the rest of the Magic's roster), Jones' chances of making the roster seem to be a bit of a long shot.
Jones though is the kind of player that could beat those odds. He has always played with energy and does those little things that do not show up on box scores and stat sheets. He brings a simple, workmanlike approach to the game. One that is in line with the Magic's cultural values.
"The only thing I can do is control what I can control on the court," Jones said. "Just bringing energy, defending that paint and defending the rim, blocking shots, rebounding. That's the only thing I can do. I can control what I do. As long as I come out and play hard and with energy."
That impact already seems to be felt. Romero Osby said he and Solomon Jones stay after practice and shoot against each other and Osby has gone to Jones for advice about playing in the league. At the same time, though, Osby knows he is competing with Jones for a roster spot.
Jones really hopes his next year will be in the NBA. And really hopes it is in Orlando.
Whereas coming home might have been a distraction earlier in his career, Jones said he is now excited and focused at the opportunity to come and play in front of his friends and families on a nightly basis.
He also has one other message and goal to accomplish.
"I'll be here," Jones said. "I'm going to be here. And that's just with confidence that I'm going to do what it takes to make this team. All the extras before practice and after practice, I'm going to be here."