I’ve spent the past couple days trying to operate under the assumption that if the Cavaliers are going to trade for someone, that player is going to be someone whose name we haven’t heard mentioned in trade rumors. So I’ve been scouring team rosters, looking at salaries, looking at performance, reading up on rifts between players, etc. So you know who I found? Nobody. I’ve got nothing. If the Cavs don’t trade for either Antawn Jamison or Troy Murphy, I don’t see an obvious deal that makes sense for the Cavaliers.
So with things circling back around to Jamison or Murphy, I began to really hone in on Jamison and to think about what the future holds. And in doing so, I saw the article by Gene Wang in the Washington Post with these quotes:
“I’m not going anywhere until they let my agent know,” Jamison said. “I got a pretty good relationship with [the Wizards' front office], and all things pointing forward is being here until my contract is over with, so that’s my mind-frame.”
“I’ve been playing for a while, and I know how rumors get started, trade rumors, this and that nature,” Jamison said, “but those guys have been looking at me in my face, and pretty much everything is staying put.”
Well, ok, then. On one hand, what do you really expect Antawn to say? He’s not going to sit there and blast Washington and say he wants out no matter what. He’s going to do and say the right thing, and he’s going to say he would like to stay there. That part doesn’t surprise me. But is the Wizards front office actually telling him they’re not going to move him? That part does surprise me.
I suppose you could make the argument here that just like Antawn, so too are the Wizards going to try to say the right thing and say they want Antawn there. However, from Jamison’s quotes it sure sounds to me like he’s implying that Wiz President Ernie Grunfeld is telling him behind the scenes that he’s not going to be moving him. If Grunfeld was planning on actually trading him, what’s his incentive for telling Antawn otherwise? It doesn’t really add up. I’m starting to think that perhaps there’s more to this idea that Washington really doesn’t want to trade Jamison to Cleveland to help the Cavaliers in any way. I’ve always scoffed at the idea in the past, but now I’m starting to wonder a bit.
Of course, this is all slightly tongue in cheek. Front office executives are professionals and they can’t (or at least shouldn’t) let emotion get in the way of what’s best for the franchise. So in Washington’s case, the more likely reason to keep Jamison is simply that they won’t know if Gilbert Arenas is going to jail and/or for how long until he’s sentenced on March 26, which is well after the February 18th trade deadline.
According to a report in the Associated Press, the Wizards are still considering trying to void Arenas’ contract despite the fact a lot of experts don’t think they will be successful. In a report by Henry Abbott on TrueHoop yesterday, he pointed out that not only will the Wizards have trouble proving legal ground to void Arenas’ deal, but they may even face pressure from the other owners not to pursue this right now so as not to weaken their position come time for collective bargaining in 2011. It’s a complex situation, but the bottom line is that no matter what the Wizards’ best chance of voiding Arenas’ contract will occur if he receives jail time and has to miss mandatory meetings/workouts next season once his suspension is lifted. So from Washington’s standpoint, they are under no obligation and certainly no pressure to trade away guys like Jamison and Butler until they know what the outcome of Arenas’ legal hearing is.
The biggest reason for the Wizards to move Jamison is that he’s a loyal professional who wants to win a title, and Washington has no chance of winning a title any time soon. Antawn Jamison deserves to be traded to a team with a shot at a title. Even if the Wizards miraculously reconcile their differences with Arenas, would it really matter? Lets face it, with Arenas and Jamison the Wizards have won exactly 1 playoff series. That’s it. One. The trio of Arenas-Jamison-Butler has never once made it out of the first round. So here’s a memo to the Wizards…..what you’re doing and what you’ve been trying to do, it’s not working.
Going back to the Gene Wang story in the Washington Post, Jamison even lets out a hint that maybe playing for a title contender might not be such a bad thing:
Published reports suggest the Cleveland Cavaliers are a potential suitor for Jamison and that the asking price is Zydrunas Ilgauskas, J.J. Hickson and a first-round pick.
Playing for the Cavaliers, who reached the Eastern Conference finals last season, would increase Jamison’s odds of winning his first NBA championship. Jamison is in his 12th NBA season, his sixth with the Wizards, and has advanced past the first round just once in five postseason appearances.
“That’s the only thing I think about is winning a title,” Jamison said. “That’s the reason why I’m still playing. That’s the reason why I’m still going hard. It’s the only thing that drives me and pushes me, so it’s the only thing left I have to accomplish, and I’m going to continue to do that.”
It’s hard not to feel for a guy who plays his heart out and just once would like to play for a title being stuck in such a dire situation in Washington and never again being able to make a serious run in the playoffs.
Perhaps Washington feels that if they can void Arenas’ contract that they will then be able to sign a different complimentary piece or two to go along with Jamison, Butler, Haywood, Foye, and Miller. Maybe. But perhaps Arenas wasn’t really the problem on the court. After all, he was leading the team in points and assists. Perhaps they just have a core group of players that just aren’t right for each other. Perhaps it’s time for them to blow this whole thing up and start over.
Of course I have ulterior motives for wanting this to happen. Yes, I want Jamison on the Cavaliers and I would gladly give up the price of Z (assuming buyout), Hickson, and a 1st round pick to acquire Jamison. But none of it matters if both the Wizards and Jamison himself are being truthful. If they’re honest, then it’s starting to sound like Antawn Jamison may not be going anywhere after all. What a shame for all parties involved if that’s the truth.