Antawn Jamison, a true Yankee at heart. (Getty Images)
Antawn Jamison, upon his return from holiday in Italy, will sign a deal with the Los Angeles Lakers. The Charlotte Observer's Rick Bonnell broke news of his decision on Monday, and Marc Spears tweeted earlier on Wednesday that the veteran forward will sign a one-year contract for the veteran's minimum, a salary that several other teams offered him, but only the Lakers could grab him for that relative pittance. And while Jamison doesn't fill any specific Laker need for defense in the backcourt or a sturdy full-time backup at center, he does tend to score quite a bit.
Efficiently, too. Because though Jamison's shooting percentage has declined the last few years, he was working for his final two seasons in Cleveland on a squad that was desperate for scoring and struggling to find easy looks. That won't be a problem in Los Angeles. Because of Steve Nash. Because of Kobe Bryant. Because of Pau Gasol. Because of Andrew Bynum. Man, these Lakers are loaded — and it doesn't really bother me that most of their superstars are old enough to have probably been real excited the day "Super Mario Brothers 3" came out.
With the amnesty deadline passing and Metta World Peace remaining a Laker, Jamison will likely come off the Los Angeles bench to provide scoring for a Lakers second unit that disappointed last year with Lamar Odom working as a member of the Dallas Mavericks. In joining the Lakers, Jamison will reunite with his former coach (for 3 1/2 months) in Mike Brown, and take to his fifth NBA team. And he'll also pair up with Bryant, who he famously dueled in an early season game over a decade ago that seemed to convince an entire generation that signing up for NBA League Pass was a really good idea:
It all seems a bit odd that, even with the Jeremy Lin brouhaha blowing over and Team USA's ascension and the Dwight Howard nonsense, nobody appears to be fawning over how absolutely fantastic the Los Angeles Lakers are going to be next season. Yes, defense will be a significant problem, but it was an issue at times last year (falling from sixth in defensive efficiency under Phil Jackson in 2010-11 to 13th under Brown), and that didn't stop the Lakers from winning what would have pro-rated to 51 wins in a typical season, all with Gasol struggling and absolutely no production from the point guard slot and the bench.
Though Jamison turned 36 in June, he'll be able to carry that bench offensively (remember, this guy scored 17 a game last year in Cleveland with precious little help, spacing-wise) in the first half and give Brown options with his lineups in the second. Few, if any, have been better than Jamison at finishing off of broken plays over the last decade, and that ability will be appreciated in Los Angeles with so many mouths to feed and options to exhaust. With Nash and Jamison in the fold, the Lakers will have only themselves and a lack of ball movement to blame if they don't vault way up from the 10th ranking in offensive efficiency that they disappointed with last season.
This is a crew that can do some dangerous things, with a fitful first-year run under Brown already out of their belts, and out of the damn way.
The summer isn't over, the roster still has some things to work out and the looming presence of Dwight Howard could change things significantly. For now, though? This Lakers team looks stacked, offensively, and championship-worthy all over again.
Signing the modern-day equivalent of James Worthy, even if he is in the winter of his career, will do that to a team's fortunes.
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