It would be a storybook ending, veteran NBA forward Antawn Jamison has conceded, to play out what’s left of his career with the Charlotte Bobcats. He went to high school in the Charlotte area, played at North Carolina, it’s where he’s raising his family and that’s where Jamison seemed headed through the moratorium period of free agency.
But who’s to stay the story has to end that way? Or that the ending can’t have another chapter or two inserted in front of it, especially one that might include a long playoff run and a championship ring?
Jamison’s name has surfaced in reports about the Los Angeles Lakers and their desire to add another frontcourt player, ideally a veteran on a minimum salary. That doesn’t preclude them from working out something with Jordan Hill or hanging onto Josh McRoberts, but ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Dave McMenamin reported that the team and Hill still are far apart in money for his services.
That’s one reason the Lakers might be turning to the oldies bin for help up front, McMenamin writes:
Aside from Hill, appearing on the Lakers’ “short list” of names they are hoping to add to the roster for the veteran’s minimum are Antawn Jamison, Elton Brand and Jermaine O’Neal, according to a source familiar with the team’s thinking.
The Lakers also have the “mini” mid-level exception available to them, beginning at $3 million a season, but prefer to hold off on using that in case a Howard deal goes down involving multiple players and they are left needing to fill a glaring void.
Not only is adding a backup big man a priority because signing Hill might not work out, but because Josh McRoberts and his expiring $3.1 million contract have drawn interest from other teams in potential [Dwight] Howard trade scenarios.
Jamison, Brand and O’Neal would have been a terrific All-Star frontcourt sometime around 2005 — and also unaffordable together (combined, they’re approaching a half billion dollars in career earnings). But now they’ve come down to the market a little — O’Neal with his injury-wracked release by Boston this spring, Brand via Philadelphia’s decision to amnesty him and Jamison by virtue of seasons spent toiling for mostly losing clubs.
Though Jamison, 36, is the oldest of the three, he also has been the healthiest and probably has the most game left after averaging 17.2 points and 6.3 rebounds for the Cavaliers in 2011-12. The fourth pick in the 1998 Draft, Jamison also has the best and not necessarily easiest choices at the moment: Does he go to Charlotte for that family focus? Opt for the Lakers for a legit chance at a ring (he has reached the playoffs only six times in his 14 years, only twice getting to the second round)? Or maybe work with Cleveland in a sign-and-trade to Brooklyn, to be part of the Nets’ exciting, ambitious plans as a Knicks rival?
That last one could be Jamison’s option right in between the others, as described by Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal:
The idea behind a sign-and-trade with any team would likely be to get Jamison more money, but no natural trade exists right now with the Nets.
Between cap holds and this being the first real offseason of the new collective bargaining agreement, the Nets’ roster situation will likely remain unresolved until Kris Humphries signs with another team and his roughly $12 million cap hold is removed from the Nets’ books.
Humphries, incidentally, is nearing a contract with the Bobcats, the Charlotte Observer reported on Thursday. If Humphries completes a deal with the Bobcats, it could free up some of the Nets’ flexibility, and remove Jamison from consideration for the Bobcats.
What the Cavs would want in compensation for making a trade work for Jamison remains unclear. The Nets have a number of free agents they could use in a sign-and-trade to make the salaries work under the cap, but the Cavs presumably would be more interested in a draft pick. It seems unlikely, however, that Jamison could fetch a first-round pick.
That’s for the general managers to sort out. For Jamison, reportedly out of the country this week, it could come down to his priorities at this point in his career: More money, more winning or more home?
The Nets’ interest in Jamison remains peculiar, since they just signed European forward Mirza Teletovic. He is a younger clone of Jamison — a 6-foot-9 scoring forward who struggles with defense and rebounding.